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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spirituality: The Holy Name of Jesus by Juan de Polanco, S.J.

The name is the Company of Jesus. Father Master Ignatius had so many visitations and signs of approval and confirmation of this name, that I heard him say he would feel to be acting against God’s will and offending him if he were to doubt of its fitness. When he was urged to change it, because some said we were taking Jesus for ourselves, and others gave other reasons, I remember him saying that even if all the members of the Society (or anyone else we are not obliged under sin to follow) judged otherwise, he would not give in on this; and since it is in the Constitutions that nothing may be done if just one objects, this name would not be changed during his lifetime. Father Master Ignatius has this unyielding assurance in the matters he knows through means superior than human ones. Then, nothing will make him budge.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spirituality: Desire for God by Sebastian Moore

…whereas desire that is simply a felt need ceases once the need is satisfied, vital desire increases with satisfaction. C.S. Lewis says of what he calls the sweet desire, that the one thing one longs for once the desire has gone is to have it again, to be once again aching with it. This increase of desire with fulfillment is only intelligible once we understand desire as a trustful relationship. One can always be more trustful, more connected, which means more desirous.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prayer: from To Die and To Live by Paul S. Minear

Few pictures are more ancient, more archetypal, than the picture of the pilgrim. None better expresses inner restlessnesss and outer uncertainty, the sense of continual movement and the ache of fatigue. A pilgrim is incomplete without his packsack into which is stuffed whatever is most precious, most essential. In comparison with all one's possessions, the backpack is a pathetic pittance; but without it a person would be forlorn indeed. Each day, the pilgrim must ask again: what am I able to take along? what must I take? So whenever we think of ourselves as pilgrims, we begin instinctively to choose and to reject, to weigh and to measure, whatever is to go with us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Prayer: Peter Faber, S.J.

Above all seek the aid of the Holy Spirit, an aid that is readily given for those who earnestly pray for it. When hearing confessions be mild and gentle. Never permit yourselves to speak sharply or show repugnance, no matter how uncouth the penitent. Let us take care not to become bored with this sublime and sacred task, we who represent Christ taking away the sins of the world. Let us take care that no sinner who comes to confession (that source of so much good), who kneels before us to be tried, exhorted and judged, faces an ordeal when he approaches us, the vicars of the gentle Christ. Let us beware of acting the haughty disdainful Pharisee, or the angry impatient judge. In fine let us do our utmost to ensure that every penitent leaving the confessional will freely return there.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prayer: Irenaeus of Lyons

The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and the life of the human being consists in beholding God.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 26, 2010

I vividly recall reading this passage of the rich man and Lazarus to a hospitable patient who was battling AIDS. She screamed in horror as I read the passage about dogs coming to lick the sores of Lazarus. I recoiled as I thought I had done something wrong, but the poor woman identified so much with Lazarus because no one would touch her anymore. Only her dog would come and lick her wounds. She felt so isolated and the only response that arose from within me was to reach out to her and hold her hands. She wept because the nurses treated her officiously and I was the first one to have human contact with her out of sheer compassion. We sat together for a while until she was ready to offer her prayers to God. She prayed such a melodic lament until she could begin to praise God for the glimpse of compassion that she craved and received. She felt dignity once again because she was treated as a friend in the Lord.

As the biblical tale goes, Lazarus was carried off to heaven; the rich man who stepped over him goes to a place of torment in the afterlife. To seek relief, the rich man petitions that Lazarus refresh him with cool water, but because a great gulf was created to keep the two separate, the rich man's suffering went unheeded. Knowing that his suffering cannot come to an end, he tries to petition that his brothers and those who are living on earth be spared them from torment, but he is told that the living harden their hearts to the word of God and to the prophets. They are so stubborn that they will not listen even if someone should be raised from the dead. The message is that the chasm cannot be bridged in the afterlife, but it is completely possible to do so in this earthly life. We have enough data from our scriptures, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and from our tradition to save ourselves from prospective torment. We have all the resources we need, but we need to listen to our teachers and respond to one another with compassion. We need repeatedly to care for one another, the most destitute and those who are not faring so well, and walk humbly in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

We know that many who are rich do a lot of good with their money and abilities for the common good. The message of the Gospel is directed to anyone who keep those who are in need at such a safe distance that we do not even learn their names. We cannot look at others as abstractions or make up our own stories that we project onto others. The rich man in this story repeatedly refused to reach out to a very needy person and he was not able to be enriched by the story of Lazarus. We know that as individuals we cannot take care of every needy person and that a person has to try to pull himself or herself up out of their condition in life. We cannot solve other's problems for them. We have limitations. We also have great capabilities and we use them best when we learn to open ourselves to receive and to share. Minimally, we can reach out to others and touch their lives through a simple gesture. The simplest one is to merely give each other the dignity of learning their names. As we reread the biblical tale, the rich man who suffers eternal torment is nameless. We will never honor his earthly identity in our memory. Lazarus is granted dignity because he is given a name to be remembered throughout the ages. Let's bridge the chasm this week by learning the names of those we pass by daily.

Quote for the Week

From Paul's Letter to the people of Philippi

We give thanks to our God each time we remember you, happy at all times in the prayers we offer for all of you. Of this we are certain, that He who began the good work in you will bring it to completion. You are close to our hearts and we know that you share our happiness...

And this is our prayer for you: May your love ever grow richer and richer.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

 First Reading: In the Book of Job, Satan comes with the other angels of God to ask the Lord if he can tempt Job to see if he can remain a righteous, God-reverencing man. God agrees to Satan's request as long as Job is not harmed. All his possessions, livelihood, and family members are taken away. Job curses the day he was born and wishes he were dead. Job begins to question the all-powerful, all-loving God for letting him, an innocent man, suffer needlessly. After Job lengthily petitions his case to God, the Lord answers him by questioning the wisdom of God.

 Gospel: James and John, friends of Jesus, erupt a dispute about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus shows them a child and tells them that the least among us is the greatest. Jesus sets his face determinately toward Jerusalem. James and John get upset with the villagers who refuse to offer him hospitality, but Jesus tells them that they will move to another village. Emphasizing hospitality, Jesus sends out the eager 72 disciples with instructions to announce the good news of the kingdom. Woe to those who fail to offer hospitality for destruction will surely come to them. Jesus shows hospitality to the little children who are considered among the least.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Andrew Vincent de Paul, priest, founded the Congregation of Missions to preach and to train clergy in the 1600's in France. He is known for his works of charity to the poor, mostly by providing food and clothing for those in need. He co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

Tuesday: Wenceslaus, martyr, was brought to the faith by his grandmother against the wishes of his mother and brother. Their opposition continued even when he had become rule. His brother invited him to a religious festival to kill him when he lost his right to become the heir because of Wenceslaus' son was born. Lawrence Ruiz and companions, were martyred in the mid-Seventeenth Century in Nagasaki, Japan. They were associated with the Dominicans and were sent on missionary expeditions to Asia Pacific.

Wednesday: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, are celebrated in both the Jewish and Christian traditions for their roles in proclaiming salvation history. Michael is the angel-guardian against evil and the leader of the heavenly host; Gabriel announces the coming of the Messiah and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; Raphael heals Tobiah on his journey and touches his tongue so that he proclaims the word of God.

Thursday: Jerome, priest and doctor, learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and became the Papal secretary for Damasus. He translated the Bible into the common Latin language. He studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen after his ordination in 377.

Friday: Therese of the Child Jesus, doctor, is known best for her autobiography, "The Story of a Soul." She sought to become a holy woman through her "little way" in the details of ordinary life. She is known as the "Little Flower" because of her way of perfection. She entered the Carmelites at age 15 and she died at age 24.

Saturday: The Guardian Angels concludes the triduum that honors the angels. This feast honors all the angels that serve as individual guardians for people on earth who are struggle to find God in the midst of the forces of evil. The word angel means messenger and guardian angels are recognized for their work of consoling and strengthening the faithful.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.
 • Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
• Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened
 a college.
• Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
• Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
• Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
• Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.

Anniversary of the Founding of the Society of Jesus On September 27 in 1540 (470 years ago today), St. Ignatius and his first 9 companions received from Pope Paul III the Papal Bull that brought the Jesuit Order into existence. The first companions pledged to serve the church under the Vicar of Christ as a religious institute with Ignatius as the Father General. The founding fathers expressed their desire to help souls accept the invitation of eternal salvation that was offered to them through Christ.

Spirituality: Mysticism in a Sufi story

A Sufi aphorism expresses the mystery of discovering God as a mutual partner as we mature through life.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully, I saw that in reality God was the seeker and I was the sought.

Of human lovers:

One day Majnun, whose love for Laila inspired many a Persian Poet, was playing in a little heap of sand, when a friend came to him and said: “Why are you wasting your time in an occupation so childish?” “I am seeking Laila in these sand,” replied Majnun. His friend in amazement cried: “Why? Laila is an angel, so what is the use of seeking her in the common earth?” “I seek her everywhere,” said Majnun, bowing his head, “that I may find her somewhere.”

From Janet Ruffing’s Spiritual Direction

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prayer: Jane Frances de Chantal

It is a great consolation to surrender ourselves wholly to God and to know that he sees and penetrates to the very secret of our hearts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spirituality: Giving voice to our Desires

If we receive the courage to voice our desires, the dialogue with Jesus or God can influence, correct, or illumine the misunderstood desire. Praying in such a way that we allow ourselves to be affected by God opens us to influence, to discovery, and to change. We keep on expressing our real desires until they are fulfilled, until they are changed, or until we are convinced God is responding to us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poem: from On the Marriage of a Virgin, Dylan Thomas, 1946

Walking alone in a multitude of loves when morning’s light
Surprised in the opening of her nightlong eyes
His golden yesterday asleep upon the iris
And this day’s sun leapt un the sky out of her thighs
Was miraculous virginity old as loaves and fishes,
Though the moment of a miracle is unending lightning
And the shipyards of Galilee’s footprints hide a navy of doves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homily: Monday of Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time (Korean Martyrs) [during retreat]

Today, Jesus lifts up the crowds and asks them to become virtues of light whose goodness can be seen by others. God's light is to shine through the actions, attitudes, and dispositions of believers so that one's life-altering experience of God's goodness can be made visible. And yet, with such an uplifting message, I have always found myself hesitating with a small amount of trepidation when I have prayed over this passage. I reasoned that I must essentially be different than most people because this passage fails to inspire me. I knew the reason. I was vulnerable. I knew that when light shines on a place of darkness, the hidden areas of chaos are exposed and can be seen by many critics. I thought that exposure to the light would make me look less virtuous and less honorable. I did not want that which was hidden to be exposed, and as a priest friend of mine often says, "we are only as sick as our secrets."

Sometimes it is much easier for us to stay away from the full exposure of the light so we can deal with our dark areas according to our own volition. We do it at our own pace and under our own control. It is much more comforting to hold these areas close to our will so that we can neatly manage them before others. We realize that we each have areas of paralyzing fear and toxic shame in our lives that decide many of our actions. Most of the time, this toxic shame is passed onto us by unknowing parents who were born into a cycle of shame. And through life, we develop further dependencies and addictions and patterns of thinking and behaving that are in direct opposition to God's plan for us. It takes either a very rare strong person to break through the formative elements of his or her life to become a healthier individual or it takes the exceeding grace of a merciful God to free us. Only a deeper affection, that is, the mercy of God can free us. At some point in our lives, we humbly recognize that we need a Savior - because we cannot do it on our own.

When I last made my 30-day retreat, I was invited to assist in the daily chores of the farm. The retreat house was located in the semi-arid wine-growing regions of South Australia that was in the height of their vintage season. The sweet fragrance of ripe prize-winning grapes would draw me into a leisurely stroll through the vineyards. Each evening after supper I would walk back to my cottage and would notice the kangaroos frolicking in the rows the separated the vines. The orchard and garden next to my house was filled with choice fruits and abundant vegetables. Each night I would put the chickens and ducks in their pens to keep the foxes away from them, and the cows had a mighty bull to protect them. My daily chore was not as idyllic though.

I was asked to pick up the broken branches of trees that fell to the ground and to place them in a pile that was far away from the edge of the property where it could be gathered into a massive woodpile and later burned. No worries mate I said as I like to do outside yard work, even though I knew I would have to skillfully navigate the minefields of cow dung. It looked easy, but as I reached down to pick up the first branch, I recoiled in pain as my finger was stung. I looked to see if it was from one of the many deadly brown snakes or from the venomous red back spider. It was merely the tiny thorns on the branch itself. The next day I bought a pair of gloves and resumed my task.

These branches gashed me open often. They tore into my shirts and cut holes into my pants. I washed blood off of my arms, legs and neck each day and had looked like lost a fist fight as I entered into the dining room each night. These branches stung me where I did not expect. I continued with the project because I was beginning to realize that each of these branches were the memories of shame, fear, pain, and anger that are part of my formative history. It was a hurtful task to extricate each branch from the tangled pile of branches where it once lay. They did not want to budge and they clung to the other branches of turmoil. It was a dark mess of thorns. It would take great effort to pry them apart and to look at them in the light of day - as I was beginning to look at each memory - one by one - through my enlightening conversations with Christ. On its own, the branch was not too heavy. Apart from the tangled mess, it was not as formidable. Sure it could still draw blood, but it was not as fierce. When I pulled it apart and examined it with Christ, the sting of the memories lessened. The pain no longer held as much power and together we could toss out the stick of memories that kept me powerless and diminished. Through Christ, these memories could begin to be healed.

Though it was not what you would call fun, I looked forward to being with Christ each day to ask for his insight into these difficult memories. He was there simply to reveal to me that he was in those memories where I experienced hurt and he let me know of his compassion towards me when my boundaries had been transgressed by others. His presence to me and his willingness to let me know his feelings made all the difference in helping me reconstruct the memories in a new, liberating manner. They no longer debilitate or paralyze or are memories that I want to bury, and the pain has subsided. My confidence could grow, my ability to harmfully judge myself lessened, and I could see the new strength that these memories provided me. And as I scanned the fields where the branches once lay, sure enough sunlight now reached the ground and there were new desirable growth. My prayer throughout this time, was "Take, Lord, Receive, all my liberty, my memory..." and I would not complete the prayer because I realized I needed to give those memories to the Lord so that one day he would returned them to me revived.

This Gospel passage no longer instills hesitancy within me. When I pray it, I recall the memories of my inner work with the Lord. He is able to shine light upon areas that I wanted no one else to look at - because I could not look at them, but we worked through my fears and I was able to receive the light that only Christ could shine on them. My prayer is that each of us can look at their sources of toxic shame, their fears, those areas where others have sinned against them, those tangled, distorted memories that keep us debilitated. When we give them over to him, we truly do become children of the light because his power brings about an everlasting liberation. Bring your soul to the Lord and let him see what is there - the joy and the great extent of your charity, the deep hurt and disappointment. Bring whatever feeling and desire you have and place it before his sight. His mercy will be there to greet you. There's no turning back. With healed and forgiven souls, we merely follow the one who can save us.

Prayer: Henri de Lubac

The risen Christ, when he shows himself to his friends, takes on the countenance of all races and each can hear him in his own tongue.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Prayer: Teresa of Calcutta

When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the sacred host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 19, 2010

I like this parable of the clever but unjust steward as an illustration of the manner in which they are to be inventive about their quest for salvation. It strikes me that Jesus is really living in the world and is not giving his disciples a pious, otherworldly answer to their problems. Their problems are of this world and they are therefore to use the secular resources of this world for solutions. One's faith life ought not to be much different from one's secular life. Don't we just live one integrated life? Of course, Jesus would prefer that the rich man's steward not be unjust at all in the management of his boss's affairs, but he applauds the way that he is able to bring some good out of a confronting dilemma. He realizes the probable diminishment of his status and knows that he is not able to survive well in a reduced position. His existence is on the line. He could have walked away or faced harsh consequences, but he decides to make sweet lemonade out of sour lemons. Jesus admires his ingenuity and resourcefulness.

The reading from Amos shows us the struggles that the prophet had in convincing God to be patient with the unruly Israelites because they were intent on cheating, cutting corners, and being unjust stewards. Amos has been speaking up in defense of the poor, but he has recently been charged not to speak anymore though he knows the Word of God is inside him and he cannot restrain himself from speaking. The Lord God says he will remember the social injustices done to others and Amos just cannot remain silent. Good for him! Those who are in authority are blatantly reckless in their responsibility to do the right thing. In Paul's letter to Timothy, the church is asked to pray for those in authority so that they can be sources of wisdom and right actions. One's accountability for one's morally conscientious actions will lead to a life where others find no fault in him or her. Life is then enjoyed and one can delight in the blessings of good relationships.

It seems that all these readings somehow touch on the reliably prudent use of authority in matters of governance. Managing well is challenging work and those in authority are subject to strict scrutiny if their intentions are not seen to be noble or for the care of the common good. The question that is posed to us is 'what do we do if we see someone act unjustly?' We realize we have a lot at stake and can suffer deleterious consequences if we speak up or act, but what type of world are we building if we refuse to give voice to serious injustice? Too often fear is used to intimidate, bully, silence or threaten those who are inclined to speak up - even from some of our religious leaders. What are we to do? Fight back? Withhold money? Be silenced? Or walk away? That is the question Jesus poses. He applauds the unjust steward for acting cleverly and for diligently seeking for solutions that work well in the secular world. How much more will Jesus affirm your good actions - the actions of good and caring people - if we learn to harness our own authority to seek to do what is right and good. Imagine the possibilities. Wouldn't it be an exciting adventure upon which to embark? Use your intelligence and your power to bring about the world we desire to create together with our Lord.

Quote for the Week

From Irenaeus of Lyons

The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the human being fully alive is the person in Christ.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Proverbs instructs a young person setting out in life to do good to others at all times as the curse of the Lord is on the wicked. The young person ought to respect the Lord and his truthful words. The preacher Ecclesiastes, also included as Wisdom literature, reminds the person that all things in life are passing so we ought to treat each created thing with due relevance. The cyclical nature of the world will take care of itself; we are to remind ourselves that we cannot change the cycle of life and death. Remember your Creator and let your heart be glad as you follow the ways of your heart.

Gospel: Jesus lifts up the crowd by telling them that they are life a light that cannot be concealed. After honoring Matthew, we return to Jesus who calls the Twelve together and gives them authority over demons, the ability to heal, and to preach the kingdom of God. When Herod the tetrarch hears about the event around Jesus, he is mystified at the possible identity of Jesus. Jesus call out from his disciples their belief about his identity as he asks, "Who do you say I am?" He then prophesies about his Passion. The disciples fail to comprehend the fate of Jesus.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Andrew Kim Taegon, priest, Paul Chong Hasang, and companions were martyrs in Korea in the 19th century. Christianity took hold in the country during the 1600's through French missionaries. Persecutions began in the mid-19th century when over 10,000 people were killed. Andrew Kim was the first Korean-born priest; Paul Chong was a Korean layman, over 100 priests, clergy, and lay people were killed in the violence.

Tuesday: Matthew, the Evangelist, is celebrated for his role in writing down the accounts of the life of Jesus, which he took mostly from Mark's account. Many people conflate the life of the evangelist with the disciple Matthew, but it is unlikely that the two are the same people. Matthew addressed his words to Jewish-Christians that were familiar with the Old Testament and he asks them to accept the Gentile Christians into the mission. For Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism as well as one who initiates a new way of relating to God.

Thursday: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest, is known to most as Padre Pio, a Capuchin Friar who received the stigmata just as Francis of Assisi did. He began prayer groups in 1920 that continue to meet today totaling over 400,000 people. He helped people by hearing confessions, providing spiritual advice, and was a prayer intercessor for many.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr. Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.
• Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
• Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
• Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
• Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
• Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
• Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.

Papal Visit to Britain

Blessings to the people of Britain and to Pope Benedict XVI during the Papal visit. May he pastorally restore the confidence of the people and assist them to joyfully live their faith during a time of complex social and moral realities. As church, may the people and the religious leaders learn from each other about the ways to build a church responsive to their lived experiences of faith. We have so much to gain!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Prayer: Teresa of Avila – discovering Jesus as most truly a friend

O, my Lord, how you are my true friend… Oh, who will cry out for you, to tell everyone how faithful you are to your friends! All things fail; you, Lord of all, never fail. O my God, who has the understanding, the learning and the new words with which to extol your works as my soul understands them? All fails me… but if you will not abandon me, I will not fail you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poem: God as Love by Hadewijch

And if anyone then dares to fight
Love with longing,
Wholly without heart and without mind,
And Love counters this longing with her longing:
That is the force by which we conquer Love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homily: Exaltation of the Holy Cross (End of 8-day retreat)

So much of our faith is paradoxical. We have now been together for a week and for two reasons, this is the point in which the retreat really begins. Reason 1 - we are made for the world and we are returning to it so that what God did with us here can gracefully unfold; we are to engage in it as fully as we can. Reason 2 – the Cross of Jesus is where our life begins, even though we too often hesitate to go to it.

We need our places of refuge, like Eastern Point, but we are to go back to the home or community to which Christ calls us. If Gloucester is merely a place of escape, we risk losing the meaning of its ministry. This place can be our sanctuary that gives us courage to persevere. Life is not easy; life is not fair and we will find many evils with terrifyingly destructive qualities to life, but we are to search for that which helps us find life and hold onto it. Life very naturally has a way of helping us build walls around us, especially in those areas where we feel anger, disappointment, hurt, and shame. These are areas where we need healing.

When we are here, we discern the forces for good and evil in our life which helps us to be conscious of the walls we are building up or taking down. Many times we are not even aware that we build a fortress around ourselves, and we lose control of just how high it can grow. Many times we do not even comprehend the amount of baggage we carry – or hide – or deceive ourselves about. This is why we need a community of faith – friends in the Lord and we need the Cross.

Through each other’s caring concern, we learn to open our hearts and attitudes to ourselves, our friends and loved ones, and most importantly to Jesus Christ. Christ is the only one who can feel our deepest hurts and joys. He is the one who gives much needed courage in our special sanctuary because we were made for the world, not for isolation. Christ helps us step forth into this journey of life and tear down the walls that we create before they get too high and too foreboding. It takes great courage to hammer that which has protected us and served us well – knowing we have created it through our own free responses to life. We have to take down the walls the debilitate us and keep us from being the most authentic person we can be. This is why we are here; this is the reason we go to the Cross of Jesus.

We cannot escape the cross, though we try. A week ago we came here with so many prayers; what has happened to them? Did Christ give us enough courage to bring our concerns to him and place them at the foot of his Cross? As we listened to each other’s hopes during our first gathering, we heard about so much heaviness, much turmoil, the tip of the iceberg of chaos that we keep buried deep inside ourselves. No doubt, our crosses are heavy, and the cross of Jesus is frightening at times.

When we were young, we would look at the crucifixion of Jesus as a horrible, brutal injustice done to him – an innocent man. It was so reprehensibly violent. In our middle years, we see the Cross as curiously necessary for life and a remarkable act of mysterious mercy on the part of God and Jesus. As we mature, we know that we need the Cross. We need, and desire, maybe sometimes even demand, that Jesus die for us so that he can make sense of all the chaos in our lives. We each need Jesus to die for us – personally, unmistakably – so that we may participate more fully in his life – so our life can have the fullness of meaning that we seek. Isn’t it paradoxical how this instrument of the vile torture is that which saves us – that which we embrace and cherish? We need this cross; we come to want this cross and we learn that we cannot have life without it. We are compelled to go to it – to place our chaos on his shoulders or let him take it from us. Wow! Jesus did this for us because of his great yearning to be with us. Jesus is doing it for us each day and he promises to do it so we can know just how much he wants to be alive in our hearts.

Somehow, over time, we personally exalt the Cross. It becomes a great symbol of God’s steadfastness to us and Gods’ love for us – so much so that he sent his only Son into our chaos because he wants to be with us – in our joy and hope, in our grief and despair. And because of it he lives, he lives on in our hearts in a way in which there are no walls any longer. He not only claims victory over sin and death, he frees us from all those things that shackle us and keep us bollixed up. He is our liberator. With the risen Jesus who once hung on that Cross, we no longer feel any limits; or see any boundaries. We possess his fire in our hearts that make us love the world, the world in which we soon return, the way that God loves the world. What a gift.

As we approach the table of the Lord, let’s remember the words we hear from Fr. Murray at the start of the retreat. Be gentle with yourselves. Be gentle. Let God be good to you as you re-enter the world beyond Eastern Point. Watch in amazement how your retreat lives on and continues to unfold upon your return. Cherish these memories. And go often to the Cross of Jesus, sit at its foot, and watch how it exalts you as it once exalted him.

Prayer: Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

The Jesuit seeks not only to imitate Jesus Christ; he also seeks to Christy the world, to contribute, in the small measure of his powers and of the grace with which God calls him, to the realization of the plan of God, who wishes “to recapitulate all things in Christ.”

Our whole vision of things, of our possibilities and aspirations, ought to take account of this; otherwise, we will be fearful and lose courage in the face of a world which, after having felt itself immensely great and powerful by the unfolding of its science and technology, finds itself often helpless to realize love and justice. The believing Christian has the consciousness of being immensely strong, by the grace of God that lives in him, and capable of following the infinite example of love given him by the whole life of Jesus Christ.

And as we know by faith, grace is destined to culminate, after death and beyond all the bounds of human life, in the vision of God, in which finally will be revealed also what we are, in love without limits and without selfishness. God will be all in all, and we shall realize ourselves in him, the Total Christ attained in plenitude.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prayer: Pope Gregory I, The Great

God wishes to be asked. God wishes to be forced. God wishes, in a certain manner, to be overcome by our prayer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J. - Images of Love

Is it possible for the rose to say, "I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad?" Or is it possible for the lamp to say, "I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people"? Or can a tree say, "I'll give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad"? These are images of what love is about.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spirituality: Karl Rahner: The surprising presence of faith, hope and love without justification

Karl Rahner writes of the surprising presence of faith, hope, and love at times when there are no apparent justifications for it. He claims that his is an action of the Spirit within us that brings ups hope beyond individual hopes and a basic and fundamental faith that cannot be shaken. He gives the following examples:

1. Where a responsibility in freedom is still accepted and borne where it has not apparent offer of success or advantage;
2. Where a person experiences and accepts his or her ultimate freedom which no earthly compulsions can take away from him;
3. Where the lead into the darkness of death is accepted as the beginning of everlasting promise;
4. Where the sum of all accounts of life, which no one can calculate alone, is understood by an inconceivable other as good, though it still cannot be “proven”;
5. Where the fragmentary experience of love, beauty, and joy is experienced and accepted purely and simply as the promise of love, beauty, and joy, without being understood in ultimate cynical skepticism as a cheap form of consolation for some final deception;
6. Where a woman dares to pray into a silent darkness and knows that she is heard, although no answer seems to come back about which she might argue and rationalize;
7. Where men and women rehearse their own deaths in everyday life; and try to live in such a way as they would like to die, peaceful and composed ---

there is God and God’s liberating grace.

Rahner, The Practice of Faith

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 12, 2010

Each of the readings today illustrate that one of God’s biggest desires is that sinners be saved from their own actions. In Exodus, Moses intercedes like a priest on behalf of the wayward people who are worshipping a golden calf instead of the one true God. Moses implores God to remember the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In 1 Timothy, Paul makes it abundantly clear that the reason Christ Jesus came into the world was to save sinners. In the 15th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells three stories to illustrate how the “once-lost” has now been found, that is, how a sinner has returned to the good graces of the one true God. The shepherd leaves the 99 to search for the one missing sheep; the woman scours her house for the precious lost coin; the wayward son who should have been disinherited by his father is welcomed back into the family. In each of these examples we are told of God’s great joy that one more person has been reconciled to God’s nonjudgmental mercy.

We are left with some perplexing questions about these situations, namely, ‘what is sin?’ and ‘what does it mean to be saved?’ Since Vatican II, we have seen two situations occur with regards to our understanding of sin: (1.) we have lost our sense of sin and reconciliation as church teachings seems inadequate as arbiters of our moral lives, and (2.) at the same time, we have a richer, deeper perspective of social, systemic sin, but with few ways to liturgically express our sorrow for these types of collective sin. We no longer have a common understanding of sin or the conditions by which it may occur. We no longer fear the threat of hell the way our forbears did. Thus, we are filled with presumption because we no longer see our sin as anything that needs to be forgiven. We chalk it up to a mistake or an imprudent judgment. Few can tell you what it means to be saved. Few have experienced the atoning, reconciling power of the sacrament in which one’s sins are wiped away and completely absolved and forgiven. Few will tell you of their experience of living anew in a blessed, loving state in which no laws can bind them or shackle them. Few experience the happy state of being liberated from the weights that society, friends and family place upon them. It takes a special person to step forward into that new life that is so accessible to us if we only learn to say ‘yes’ to our possibilities.

It would be good for each of us to struggle to define sin for ourselves. The best way I have heard sin defined is as a “failure to bother to love.” When we no longer even try anymore to set our lives right or to help another in terrible need, we simply sin. We do not see the pervasive effects of sin and when we live with unresolved tensions, we learn habits of going through life with indifference and apathy and disappointment. Our spirits are dampened and it is easy for our souls to get lost. We need to be saved. When we do bother to love, we are like that sheep that is returned to the fold, like the coin that is safely stored in the woman’s purse, or like the boy who returns to the grateful embrace of his accepting father’s arms. This is the type of love the world needs. This is the type of love that we need extended to us and extended by us. When we can become agents of these types of powerful reconciliations, we help others feel the warm love of God and God can only be happy with that. We have the possibility to live fulfilling, healthy lives if we only allow ourselves to be reconciled to God’s reach and really experience the type of mercy and acceptance we all crave.

Quote for the Week

From Deuteronomy 4:9

Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live … teach them to your children and to your children’s children.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul addresses the divisions among the church in Corinth especially in the area of gathering for the memorial of the Lord’s Supper. Paul reminds them that this meal is very different and is handing onto them by the Lord himself. He encourages their unity by asking them to consider whether their actions to one another are loving – for charity has to be the determinant in all their moral choices. Paul imparts the mystery of faith to them and explains the manner in which he is called to be an apostle. God’s raising of Christ from the dead raises the dead to eternal life and removes the stain of our sins. The resurrection of the body takes on an incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual nature in contrast to the body of the earthly life. God’s grace transforms the body into the image of a heavenly body.

Gospel: In Luke, the Centurion exhibits laudable faith when he trusts that Jesus can and will cure his deathly ill slave. A sinful woman reveals the outward nature of her faith when she enters uninvited into Simon the Pharisee’s house to anoint the feet of Jesus with oil and tears. As the holy caravan moves from one town to the next, the disciples take time for rest and spend a restful time with Jesus. The Twelve were with him and also many women who were cured by Jesus. Jesus then preaches to the gathering crowd about the sower and the seed.

Saints of the Week

Monday: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor, joined a hermitage that practiced austerity that ruined his health. He returned to his native Antioch and was ordained in 386. He was a powerful preacher, as Chrysostom means “golden mouth,” and was named bishop of Constantinople in 398 where he began a program of reform.

Tuesday: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross commemorates the finding of the true cross by Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helen. The feast remembers the dedication of the original church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 and the significance of Christ’s victory of death by crucifixion. Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire due to Constantine’s conversion and the Roman church soon began to celebrate this day.

Wednesday: Our Lady of Sorrows was originally called the Seven Sorrows of Mary by the Servite Friars who began a new devotion in 1668. The devotion’s popularity increased to recall: Simeon’s prophecy, the flight into Egypt, losing the boy Jesus in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, deposition, and entombment.

Thursday: Cornelius, pope, was elected to the papacy after Pope Fabian was martyred. The priest Novatian tried to become bishop of Rome, but Cyprian came to the defense of Cornelius. Under a further persecution, Cornelius was killed in 253. Cyprian, bishop, reigned over Carthage and wrote on the unity of the church, the role the bishops, and the significance of the sacraments. The Emperor Valerian renewed a persecution and arrested Cyprian before putting him to death in 258.

Friday: Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor, became a Jesuit in 1560 a few years after Ignatius Loyola’s death. He was a professor of Controversial Theology at the Louvain and in Rome where he wrote the “Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith Against the Heretics of the Age.” Even Protestant reformers respected his balanced and well-argued presentation. He further developed the Latin Bible, oversaw the publication of two catechisms, ran the Roman College and the Vatican library. The Jesuits name their house of studies in Rome after him.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites. Persecution followed in China.
• Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
• Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
• Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
• Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
• Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.
• Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).

Earthquake Relief in Christchurch, New Zealand

The people near Christchurch, New Zealand are still experiencing great challenges. Five days of frequent aftershocks and another earthquake on a different fault line is taking a toll on the inhabitants. Many people have had successive nights of undisturbed sleep and there is some toll on families who cannot weather these challenges. Current estimates of the cost of rebuilding are around four billion dollars.

Donations to Caritas for Christchurch earthquake relief can be made by:

• Phoning 0800 22 10 22 to make credit card donations or
• Donating online using a credit card at www.caritas.org.nz or
• Posting to Caritas, PO Box 12193, Thorndon, Wellington 6144, New Zealand.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Prayer: Ambrose of Milan

How many people are hidden martyrs for Christ each day, confessing the Lord Jesus with their deeds?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Earthquake Relief in Christchurch, New Zealand

The people near Christchurch, New Zealand are still experiencing great challenges. Five days of frequent aftershocks and another earthquake on a different fault line is taking a toll on the inhabitants. Many people have had successive nights of undisturbed sleep and there is some toll on families who cannot weather these challenges. Current estimates of the cost of rebuilding are around four billion dollars.

Donations to Caritas for Christchurch earthquake relief can be made by:

• Phoning 0800 22 10 22 to make credit card donations or
• Donating online using a credit card at www.caritas.org.nz or
• Posting to Caritas, PO Box 12193, Thorndon, Wellington 6144, New Zealand.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories.

Prayer: Walter Burghardt, S.J.

How is it that billions of stars can fly the heaven more speedily than light? Because an all-powerful Christ gives them being. Not once for all, but continuously, day after day. How is it that four thousand varieties of roses can grow and perfume our earth? Because an imaginative Christ gives them life. How is it that your long-haired Labrador can look hungrily at you, hear your faintest whistle, lay paws on your shoulders? Because a sensitive Christ gives it senses. How is it that you can shape an idea, construct the Capitol, transplant a human heart? Because a still human Christ gives you intelligence. How can you believe that the Son of God died a bloody death for you, how you can confidently expect to live forever, how can you give yourself unreservedly to God and to your sisters and brothers? Because a living Christ infuses faith in you, fills your flesh with hope, inflames your very bones with a unique love not of this world?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Prayer: Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke you, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in you, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in you, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
R. Make our hearts become like yours.

Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the heart of your beloved Son and upon the praise and satisfaction he makes to you in the name of sinners; and in your great goodness, pardon those who seek your mercy, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Poem: from In Praise of Mary, Anonymous, 13th century

Lady, flower of alle thing, Rosa sine spina,
Thou bore Jesu, heavens king, Gratia divina.
Of all thou bear’st the prize,
Lady, queen of Paradise

Monday, September 6, 2010

Literature: from the Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain, published 1916

At last I made bold to ask him to tell us who we was.

‘An angel,’ he said, quite simply, and set another bird free and clapped his hands and made it fly away.

A kind of awe fell upon us when we heard him say that, and we were afraid again; but he said we need not be troubled, there was no occasion for us to be afraid of an angel, and he liked us, anyway. He went on chatting as simply and unaffectedly as ever… Then Seppi asked him what his own name was, and he said, tranquilly, ‘Satan’…

It caught us suddenly, that name did, and our work dropped out of our hands and broke to pieces… Satan laughed, and asked what was the matter. I said, ‘Nothing, only it seemed a strange name for an angel.’ He asked why.

‘Because it’s – it’s – well, it’s his name, you know.’
‘Yes, - he is my uncle.’
He said it placidly, but it took our breath for a moment and made our hearts beat… ‘Don’t’ you remember? – he was an angel himself, once.’

‘Yes – it’s true,’ said Seppi; ‘I didn’t think of that.’
‘Before the Fall he was blameless.’
‘Yes,’ said Nikolaus, ‘he was without sin.’
‘It is a good family – ours,’ said Satan; ‘there is not a better. He is the only member of it that has ever sinned.’

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Spirituality: Megan McKenna’s story about reluctance to claim and act on our desires

There was a woman who wanted peace in the world and peace in her heart and all sorts of good things, but she was very frustrated. The world seemed to be falling apart. She would read the newspapers and get depressed. One day she decided to go shopping, and she went into a mall and picked a store at random. She walked in and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter. She knew it was Jesus, because he looked just like the pictures she’d seen on holy cards and devotional pictures. She look again and again at him, and finally she got up her nerve and asked “Excuse me, are you Jesus?” “I am.” “Do you work here?” “No,” Jesus said, “I own the store.” “Oh, what do you sell in here?” “Oh, just about anything!” “Anything?” “Yeah, anything you want. What do you want?” She said, “I don’t know.” “Well,” Jesus said, “feel free, walk up and down the aisles, make a list, see what it is you want, and then come back and we’ll see what we can do for you.”

She did just that, walked up and down the aisles. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, peace in families, no more drugs, harmony, clean air, careful use of resources. She wrote furiously. By the time she got back to the counter, she had a long list. Jesus took the list, skimmed through it, looked up at her and smiled, “No problem.” And then he bent down behind the counter and picked out all sorts of things, stood up, and laid out the packets. She asked, “What are these?” Jesus replied “Seed packets. This is a catalogue store.” She said, “You mean I don’t get the finished product?” “No, this is a place of dreams. You come and you see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them grow and someone else reaps the benefits.” “Oh,” she said. And she left the store without buying anything.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 5, 2010

The Wisdom of God may confound us. We seek it out, but it is difficult to comprehend, and yet we know we need it to stay on the straight path. Paul’s urging of Philemon, a slave owner, to accept his former slave, Onesimus, who is serving time in prison with Paul, as an equal fellow follower of Christ must have surely bent Philemon’s mind. All value in the ancient Middle Eastern world was based on status and honor. In the minds of the world, it would have been such a curiosity for a Christian to view another believer as equal in status. Such is the wisdom of God. Jesus stretches our comprehension of this wisdom when he tells us that we are to leave everything to become his disciples. We know that we want what Jesus offers us; the investment is great, but the cost is enormous and it seems difficult for many to accept. We know that we are to accept a new family of faith in which we treat everyone as a fellow equal in status, but what does he mean when he tells us to leave family, friends and loved ones, and even one’s very self?

St. Ignatius of Loyola would tell us that we are to become aware of our attachments and to allow Christ to be free of them so we can love, follow, and serve him more nearly. Jesus wants us to realize the extraordinary commitment we are making. Hearing him tell us that we must leave family is shocking when in reality he stays close to his family. What he is doing is creating a new family of faith and he is preparing us to be ready to accept strangers into the fold as if they are family. They are to be equal in status as Onesimus, the former slave, would become to his former master. Our attachment to Jesus must be greater than our attachment to our former way of life, which includes family, friends, and possessions. He wants our hearts free to grow in freedom; he wants our hearts to be able to grow in love and affection according to God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of the world. This new type of freedom is difficult to do because we have to examine those areas of our heart that closes down and inhibits growth and we have to actively work to set it right. To do this, we will undergo much pain. To do this, we will squarely hold the cross in our hands and place it on our shoulders. There is no getting around it. Yes, we will have to let go of things that have provided us comfort and security, and yes, it will hurt, and yes, we will be able to grow in charity and freedom in exponential ways.

Spend some time this weekend to ask Christ to reveal to you some of your attachments. Don’t do it on your own. Let him reveal to you those areas that inhibit your freedom. Through our upbringing, we form habits and adopt worldviews that are detrimental to our movement toward true freedom. We sometimes see ourselves as better than others; we sometimes see ourselves as inadequate and unworthy. Christ calls us to let go of all those things that detract from a spirit of free generosity where care for another is equal to care of oneself. We can trust the words of Scripture and the steadfastness of Jesus to repay us for all that we have given up. The load is lighter when we can move beyond those attachments that own us. We are healthier, happier, more loving, and we will inherit the many graces Christ longingly desires to give us. Give it up and enjoy new life! The cost is nowhere near the reward.

Quote for the Week

From Emily Dickinson

“Such good things can happen to people who learn to remember.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul wisely counsels the Corinthians not to boast and act righteous when one of the Christians commits heinous acts of immorality, but to celebrate the Paschal feast with sincerity and truth. He takes issue with believers taking other believers to the world’s law courts because this world is a training ground for the ways believers will judge at the appointed time. Charity is the determinant of our behavior toward one another and knowledge is important for our right judgment so we must abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols because we offend those with imperfect knowledge and weaken their understanding. We are to imitate Paul who preaches the Gospel free of charge – we are to imitate the runner, one out of many, who trains diligently to win the prize. Finally, Paul urges the community to refrain from idolatry, which occurs when one participates in the rituals of the pagans.

Gospel: In Luke, Jesus cures a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, which violates Jewish customs and infuriates the Pharisees. He then calls those men who will be the special Twelve and he begins to teach and heal all who are in need. He then gives the Sermon on the Plain – asking them to follow the Golden rule and to refrain from judging. He then further explains that we judge others harshly when we cannot even see the huge flaws in our own vision. Therefore, we are in no position to judge. God will judge us and will see that good fruit comes from a good tree; therefore we must build our foundation on a solid rock so we can weather the challenges that confront our faith.

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: The Birth of Mary is set nine months after the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. No details are known of her birth, her family life, or where she lived as a young girl. Honoring Mary’s birth was first an Eastern Church tradition practice that soon caught up in popularity in the Roman Church.

Thursday: Peter Claver, S.J., priest, was from Catalonia when he joined the Jesuits in 1600. Peter was sent to the New World missions in South America and settled in Cartagena in Colombia, the seat of the slave trade. Peter ministered to the new arrivals of slaves providing them with food and medicine. In 1654, he fell ill as we wore himself out in his ministry. He died shortly afterwards. His name became acclaimed across the country when he died and many slaves and those in the slave trade paid him great honor by using his name as an intercessor in their prayers.

Saturday: The Holy Name of Mary is celebrated a few days after Mary’s birth. For a Jewish male, the giving of the name to the infant is done in conjunction with the circumcision. Mary’s name may originate from the word ‘beloved.’ Mary was a popular name for Jewish girls, mostly in memory of Miriam, the sister of Moses.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.
• Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the fathers from England.
• Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV, expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
• Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking (Beijing). He experienced enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, being stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.
• Sep 9, 1773. At Lisbon, Carvalho, acting in the king's name, ordered public prayers for the deliverance of the world from the "pestilence of Jesuitism."
• Sep 10, 1622. The martyrdom at Nagaski, Japan, of Charles Spinola and his companions.
• Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, the death of Fr. Geoffry Henschen (Henschenius). A man of extraordinary learning, he was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.

Happy Labor Day

In the U.S., Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer when a new academic year begins. Labor Day is a respite before the flurry of autumn activities. It is a day of rest to honor the major contributions of laborers in building the infrastructure of our society. May today be a time of celebration, renewal, and festivities with friends and loved ones. Thanks for all the hard work you provide throughout the remainder of the year. You deserve this day of rest.

Back to School

Blessings to all teachers and students who return to school for the fall semester! May it be a year when your hearts, minds, and imagination become inflamed with the love of knowledge and may that knowledge be put to good use to improve the health of our world. We rely upon you to build a new future for us.

Memorial of the 2001 Attacks on the U.S.

Saturday, September 11th marks the anniversary of the attacks on the U.S. in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York City. Many of our national policies have been strengthened since that date to provide for greater security of our citizens. It is a day in which we sadly remember innocent citizens and foreign nationals who became victims of such deadly attacks. It is a day in which we can continue to pray for peace in our world – a peace that arises from people of good will coming together so that we can erase the major tensions and all sources of violence that cause such actions to occur. We need this peace so that the entire world can live in security with a respectful listening ear to those who are in need.

A test of our tolerance and good will is the proposed building of a Muslim house of worship in lower Manhattan.

Mid-East Peace Talks

Let us pray for President Obama, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Palestines’ Prime Minister Abbas as they sit down to reconcile differences so they can build peace and security for their respective nations. May they see each other’s good will and desire to live as neighbors who prosper and celebrate each other’s good humanitarian progress for their citizens!

Father’s Day in Australia and New Zealand

Happy Father’s Day to those who have been a meaningful paternal presence to someone in their lives! Father’s Day is celebrated on Sunday, September 5th in the Anzac nations of Australia and New Zealand. Good on ya, mates!

Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

Please pray for the people on the South Island on New Zealand who just experienced a 7.4 magnitude earthquake twenty miles north of Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. Fortunately, the quake occurred while most people were still sleeping so injuries are low, but many houses, shops, and building are destroyed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Prayer: Psalm 139 (with measured pauses)

This Psalm is to be read antiphonally by two of more people at a slow and measured pace with a pause after the first line. Too often we rush through our devotional prayers.

O LORD, you have probed me, you know me: ( …pause…)
you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.

My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. ( …pause…)
Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.

Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. ( …pause…)
Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.

Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? (…pause…)
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.

If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, ( …pause…)
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light" --( …pause…)
Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. ( …pause…)
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;

My bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. ( …pause…)
Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! ( …pause…)
Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.

If only you would destroy the wicked, O God, and the bloodthirsty would depart from me! ( …pause…)
Deceitfully they invoke your name; your foes swear faithless oaths.

Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe? ( …pause…)
With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own.

Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my concerns. ( …pause…)
See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.

Glory be to the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit ( …pause…)
As it was in the beginning it is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Literature: from Paradiso, Divina Commedia, Dante, 1318-21

And at that centre, with their wings expanded,
More than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I,
Each differing in effulgence and in kind.
I saw there at their sports and at their songs
A beauty smiling, which the gladness was
Within the eyes of all the other saints;
And if I had in speaking as much wealth
As in imagining, I should not dare
To attempt the smallest part of its delight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prayer: Mary Magdalene De’Pazzi

You are God, you are Father, you are Spirit, and you are also love. Never, never will I tire of calling you with this name of love.