Friday, April 30, 2010

Poem: from As Joseph as A-walking, Anonymous, Traditional French Carol

As Joseph was a-walking
He heard an Angel sing:
‘This night there shall be born
Our gracious Heav’nly King;
He neither shall be born
In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
But in an ox’s stall.’

‘He neither shall be christen’d
In white wine nor in red;
But with the fair spring water,
With which we were christened.’
As Joseph was A-walking,
Thus did the Angel sing;
And Mary’s Child at midnight
Was born to be our King.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Prayer: Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)

Give to everyone that asks you, and do not refuse for God's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. - 2nd Century

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spirituality: Text of the Deliberations of the First Fathers (three of five)

Having decided and solved the first problem, we faced another more difficult one worthy of no less reflection and foresight. Having already pronounced perpetual vows of chastity and poverty before the most reverend legate of His Holiness when we were working in Venice, we now asked whether we should pronounce a third vow, namely to obey one of us in order that we might carry out the will of our Lord God more sincerely and with greater praise and merit and, at the same time, carry out the will and command of His Holiness to whom we had most willingly offered our will: will, understanding, strength, and the rest.

After many days of reflection and prayer, nothing had transpired to fill our souls with peace in solving this problem. Hoping in the Lord, we began to discuss mutually some means to solve the problem. First of all, we asked whether it might be good for all of us to withdraw to some hermitage and to remain there for thirty or forty days, spending all our time in meditations, fasting, and penances to the end that God might respond to our desires and deign to impress upon our minds the solution of the problems. Then, we asked whether three or four in the name of all should retire in this way for the same purpose. Or whether – although no one would go to a hermitage, all remaining in the city – we should devote ourselves to this one affair, so that we might give a larger and more ample place to meditation, reflection, and prayer, spending the rest of the day in our usual works of preaching and hearing confessions.

Finally, after discussing and examining these proposals, we decided that all would remain in Rome for two reasons especially: first, so as not to cause rumors and scandals in the city and among the people who, since men are so inclined to rash judgment, might conclude and suppose that we had taken flight or begun to work at something new or had little stability and perseverance in carrying out what we had begun; secondly, so that through being absent we would not in the meantime lose the great results we were seeking in hearing confessions, preaching, and other spiritual exercises, the demands for which were so great that if we were four times our number we could not satisfy all, as we cannot do at present.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spirituality: Lectio Divina

Opening prayer:

“Lord Jesus, you who are the Son of the Living God, teach me to listen to what you tell me in the holy Scriptures, and to discover your face there.” (Guigo III)

Reading: Getting to know the text

• Take in all the elements of the text.
• Be aware of context, related texts, quotes.
• Note the key characters; what are the key words?
• Do not choose anyone thing to work with at this stage.
• You are becoming familiar with the text: gathering food for thought.

Meditation: Engaging with the text, making it my own

• Here, faith life and the Word interact and seek integration.
• What does the text tell me about the God who speaks?
• What does it tell me about responding to that God?
• What does the text teach me about my faith life?
• What do I need to do to transform my life?
• We cannot do it alone; we are humbled, we turn to God in prayer.

Prayer: Let prayer emerge from your working with the text

• This prayer emerges from our reading/meditation.
• It is shaped by our personal prayer practice.
• We seek the grace to achieve what emerged from meditation.
• Prayer commits us to transformation of life.
• All that we can do in prayer is done here.

Contemplation: God’s response

• What happens here, only God can give
• Do not expect this to happen: go with it if it does.
• God does not wait but breaks in and runs to meet us.
• There is no need to be silent to let God speak.

Action: throughout the day

• Now choose a word, phrase, sentence.
• Bring it to mind frequently during the day.
• Let it recapture the experience of your lectio.
• Use it especially in situations relating to your lectio.
• Daily and hourly till the soil of the heart with the Gospel plow.

From Joseph Sobb, S.J. of the Australian province

Monday, April 26, 2010

Prayer: Peter Canisius

See, O merciful God, what return
I, your thankless servant, have made
for the innumerable favors
and the wonderful love you have shown me!

What wrongs I have done,
what good left undone!
Wash away, I beg you,
these faults and stains
with your precious blood,
Most kind Redeemer,
and make up for my poverty
by applying your merits.
Give me the protection I need
to amend my life.

I give and surrender myself wholly to you,
and offer you all I possess,
with the prayer that you bestow
your grace on me,
so that I may be able to devote and employ
all the thinking power of my mind
and the strength of my body
in your holy service,
who are God blessed for ever and ever.
Amen.

Memorial: April 27

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prayer: Pope John Paul I

Commonplace love. Often it is the only kind possible. To help others as best you can, to avoid losing your temper, to be understanding, to keep calm and smiling on these occasions (as much as possible!) is loving your neighbor, without fancy talk, but in a practical way.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spirituality: Text of the Deliberations of the First Fathers (two of five)

We began, therefore, to use all our human efforts and to bring forward our common problems deserving of careful and mature consideration and planning. Our custom was to reflect and meditate and pray over the questions throughout the day. In the evening each man proposed to rest what he judged to be more correct and more expedient, in order that all might unanimously embrace the opinion that was truer and that had been examined and proved by stronger reasons and by the votes of the majority.

The first evening we came together, this question was proposed: after we had offered and dedicated ourselves and our lives to Christ our Lord and to His true and legitimate vicar of earth, so that he might dispose of us and send us wherever he might judge we could be most effective – whether to the Indies, the heretics, or among any of the faithful or among the non-Christians – would it be better for us to be so joined and bound together in one body that no physical dispersal, however great, could separate us? Or perhaps would this be inexpedient?

A clear example of the problem was the Pope’s sending two of us to Siena. Should we have concern and mutual comprehension for those going there, and they for us? Or should we perhaps have no greater concern for them than for persons outside our Company? Finally, we decided affirmatively, namely, that since the most kind and loving Lord had deigned to unite us to one another and to bring us together – weak men and from such different places and cultures – we should not sever God’s union and bringing together, but rather every day we should strengthen and more solidly ground it, forming ourselves into one body. Everyone should have concern for and comprehension of the others for greater apostolic efficacy, since united strength would have more power and courage in confronting whatever challenging goals were to be sought than if this strength were divided into many parts.

Now, in all that has been recounted and yet will be, we wish it to be understood that we adopted nothing at all from our own “spirit” and subjective notions, but only (whatever it might be) what the Lord inspired and the Apostolic See confirmed and approved.

Fourth Sunday (Good Shepherd) of Easter

April 25, 2010

Many people in the world are now looking at the spiritual shepherds of the Catholic Church and concluding that some have not been caring, protective shepherds to the flock. The sexual abuse scandal and its subsequent response by bishops are not isolated to the U.S. as some thought. Since last fall, three Irish bishops have resigned; a Belgian and a German bishop just offered their resignation and some suggest that others throughout the world should probably follow suit. This week theologian Hans Kung wrote an open letter to the bishops urging them to consider his six points including calling for a council who could address the problematic issues of the day. Theologian Gerald O’Hanlon wrote a similar letter in February that was published in Furrow magazine. Many are impatiently waiting for the Church leaders to respond as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would. The media and the church’s critics will keep their focus of the pastoral response of bishops, including the Bishop of Rome who promises to take action in this matter.

We have to be careful not the throw the baby out with the bath water. We do have many good bishops and religious leaders who care for their flock and we need to affirm those who are providing good ministry. We also know that there is a widening gap between some bishops and their people because complicated social and moral issues are not allowed to be discussed in conversation. Dialogue is essential for understanding another’s viewpoints and for enriching one’s own conscience. We all have an obligation to develop and form our conscience and in this fast-paced, ever-changing world, we need dialogue to help us maneuver through this rugged terrain. True dialogue is often a loving response because one is able to listen attentively and also feel heard by the other. It is satisfying even if it does not solve any problems. Notice the style of one’s way of proceeding. It can say much about their openness and generosity.

Being besieged by forces within or outside the church ought not to bother us. It has always been there and always will be. In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas preaches the grace of God in raising Jesus from the dead to both the Jews and the Gentiles. The Gentiles gratefully receive the message, but many Judaizers become violent towards the disciples who leave joyfully because the word of God was being spread to many others. The first reading and the Gospel remind us to keep our eyes fixed on the joy of knowing Christ who is our ultimate Good Shepherd. He will give us the protection we need. We need not be afraid of the forces of the world because he will give us eternal life, and we might want to notice all the good people who are with us in the flock – lay people, priests, religious and bishops. We are all in this together because Christ has called us to himself. In this entire maelstrom, we have to return to the voice of the Shepherd and first and foremost listen to what he has to say, and we have to tell him what is on our mind as well, including what we deeply feel. He will take care of us for sure, but he is showing us remarkable love when he converses with us. Let’s find some time to dialogue with our true Shepherd in prayer this week. It can make all the difference in the world.

Quote for the Week

From Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, December 18, 2005:

The silence of Saint Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to divine desires. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence. It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned -- at the human level -- that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice.... Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with Saint Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We see how the church begins to move outward from Jerusalem as Peter visits the house of uncircumcised Gentiles and eats with them. Peter realizes that it is the same Holy Spirit that falls upon the Gentiles and Jews, so they all glorified God. During the persecution that followed because of Stephen, the new Christians were scattered and began to talk with Greeks and they proclaimed the good news to them. While in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas are set aside to bring the word of God to the Gentiles. Paul tells the story of the Jews culminating in the life of Jesus and the promise that God fulfilled among them.

Gospel: From Good Shepherd Sunday, we continue with John 10 as he describes the good care that a true shepherd provides his flock. Jesus is the gate for the sheep and he gives eternal life. His statements end with his proclamation that he and the Father are one. He came in to the world as light and whoever receives and believes in Jesus believes in the Father. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and all who come to him will have eternal life with the Father.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Mark, the Evangelist is celebrated on April 25th, which falls on the Lord ’s Day this year. Mark is regarded as the author of the first Gospel and is associated with Peter whom he heard preach. Mark was originally a companion of Paul, but is later associated with Peter’s ministry. He was sent to Alexandria and formed a church that is now known as the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Tuesday: Peter Canisius, S.J., priest and Doctor, is attributed to have stopped the spread of Protestantism in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The restoration of Catholicism in Germany after the Restoration is attributed to his work. Declared a doctor of the church in 1925, his feast day was moved to December 21st, the date of his entry into eternal life.

Wednesday: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr, is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural France, he joined the Society of Mary to become a missionary in 1831. At first the missionaries were well-received in the New Hebrides as they recently outlawed cannibalism. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest.

Thursday: Catherine of Siena, Doctor, had mystical visions as a girl that continued during her 3rd Order of Dominican profession at age 16. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon in 1377 in order to heal the great Western Schism. She is said to have a brilliant theological mind. When she died at age 33, she was found to have the stigmata.

Friday: Pius V, Pope, led the church through the Reformation (1566-1572). He was ordained a Dominican priest and taught in seminaries, became master of novices and a prior to several houses, and eventually became the General of the Inquisition. His excessive zeal led to his publication of Trent’s decrees on the Roman catechism, breviary, and missal. His alignment with European monarchical forces stopped the decline of Islamic advances by the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 in the gulf of Patras in the Ionian Sea.

Saturday: Joseph the Worker, was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities which believers should adopt.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 25, 1915. Pierre Rousselot, Professor at the Institute Catholique in Paris, is wounded and taken prisoner during World War I.
• Apr 26, 1935. Lumen Vitae, center for catechetics and religious formation was founded in Brussels.
• Apr 27, 1880. On the occasion of the visit of Jules Ferry, French minister of education, to Amiens, France, shouts were raised under the Jesuit College windows: "Les Jesuites a la guillotine."
• Apr 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadenaira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540.
• Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
• Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.
• May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.

Plans for the Week

I am heading to Hervey Bay, a four-hour drive north of Brisbane, Australia to give a three-week retreat called the Exercises in Daily Life. Please pray for the Xavier Catholic College participants who will make this retreat and please pray for their director that I may stay out of the ways of God’s communication with them.

Prayers for Chile and Haiti

Let’s continue our prayers and generosity to the people of Chile and Haiti who are still recovering from earthquakes and natural disasters. While the world’s cameras may have turned their lenses to other news, let’s remember those who silently reconstruct their lives amid great hardship.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Prayer: Dios te salve, Maria (Hail Mary) in Spanish

Dios te salve, Maria.
Llena eres de gracia:
El Señor es contigo.
Bendita tú ere entre todas las mujeres.
Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre:
Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
Amén.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spirituality: Text of the Deliberations of the First Fathers (one of five)

Near the end of Lent the time was drawing near when we would have to be dispersed and separated from one another. We were very eager for this, recognizing it as necessary in order to reach the goal we had already fixed upon and thought about with intense desire.

We decided to come together for some days before separating to discuss with one another our vocation and manner of life. After doing this for several days, we were divided by different ideas and opinions concerning our state of life, some of us being French, others Spanish, others Savoyards or Portuguese. There was unity of mind and purpose: to seek the gracious and perfect will of God according to the scope of our vocation; but there were various opinions concerning the more effective and more successful means both for ourselves and for our fellowmen.

It should surprise no one that this difference of opinion occurred among us weak and frail men, since even the Apostles, princes and pillars of the most holy Church, as well as many most perfect men with whom we are unworthy to be even remotely compared, had points of view which were different and at times in direct contradiction, and they have left these contrary opinions in writing. Since we judged matters differently, we therefore we anxious to seek and find some truly open way that we could follow in offering ourselves as a holocaust to our God, to whose praise and honor our all might be surrendered.

Finally, we decided and determined unanimously to give ourselves to prayers and sacrifices and meditations with greater than usual fervor and, after using all our resources, to cast all our concerns upon the Lord, hoping in Him who is so good and generous that He denies His good spirit to no one who asks with a humble and single heart. Indeed, He gives with largesse to all men disappointing no one. Certainly, He would not fail us; but so great is His goodness, He would help us beyond our desires and understanding.

Spirituality: Liberation by Anthony de Mello, S.J.

"How shall I get liberation?"
"Find out who has bound you," said the Master.
The disciple returned after a week and said, "No one has bound me."
"Then why ask to be liberated?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prayer: Gregory of Nyssa

The power of God is capable of finding hope where hope no longer exists, and a way where the way is impossible.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prayer: Communion by Joseph Cardinal Bernadin

At this table we put aside every worldly separation based on culture, class, or other differences. This communion is why all prejudice, all racism, all sexism, all deference to wealth and power must be banished from our parishes, our homes, our lives.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Poem: Meeting with a Stranger, James Kirkup, 1947

You, through whose face
all lovely faces look,
and are resolved forever
in your soul’s true mirror:
you, in whose unspoken word
the irrevocable voices speak again,
making in this less divided moment
the remembered music that the heart accords.

O you who are myself and yet another,
who are the world, and the unknown
through which the town, the river,
the familiar gardens and the fountain shines;
here is my hand, and with it let all hands
be given, and be held, in yours and mine.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spirituality: Five Freedoms of True Love

Virginia Satir speaks of five freedoms which accrue when one is loved uncondtionally. These freedoms involve our basic powers: (1) the power to perceive, (2) the power to love (choose and desire), (3) the power to emote, (4) the power to think and express, and (5) the power to envision or imagine.

When we are whole and fully self-accepting, we deal more with reality than with the "shoulds" of life. We have been "should upon" far too often in life. When we are loved unconditionallly, we can accept ourselves just as we are. Self-acceptance is personal power. It means that we are integrated and unified. All of our energy is centered and flows outward.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2010

The stories told in today’s readings show us ways of showing love to one another in light of Christ’s victorious resurrection. Peter and the disciples appear before the religious council in defiance of their strict orders never to mention the resurrection, but they leave their presence in joy (despite the floggings) because they were faithful to God’s command rather than the commands of men. Neither fear of recrimination nor the sting of death has any power over the disciples anymore. They are free to live in imitation of Jesus whose faith brought about their redemption. In the second reading, the whole heavenly court is found rejoicing in the final triumph of Christ over the forces of sin and death. All creation responds in joyful celebration to the Christ event.

John’s Gospel depicts the famous scene of Peter standing in front of Jesus at the seashore to receive triple forgiveness for his triple denial during the Passion. By confessing his love of Jesus, he is able to renew his commitment to him and to live in a future that will have new, yet uncertain directions. Peter realizes only two aspects of discipleship are necessary for his life – his self-sacrificing, loving fidelity to Jesus which brings about a loving response to his neighbors. This radical version of love with Christ as the true north of the compass will govern every activity in his life and will shape the new community being formed. Love is the root that grounds all future choices. Love is a choice.

It is important for us to examine the life of the early Christians to help us understand the ways in which love is to govern our daily lives and the life of our church. We sometimes have to ponder whether our religious leaders are acting out of the Sanhedrin-like adherence to the law or the Peter and the Apostles fidelity to God’s commission to preach and to live in the Spirit of Christ. This is not always easy to discern. We have wonder whether we adequately seek the forgiveness of sins as Peter did so that we can recommit our fidelity to the merciful Christ. We may find it best to take more time to wrestle with our daily choices so we can check in with Christ to if our smallest decisions are made in conversation with him and reveal the greatest amount of our love. Taking time to comprehend our responses to Christ will help us be free enough to respond with the bold clarity and joyfulness of the apostles. Who would not want to live this way?

Quote for the Week

Jesuits celebrate Thursday, April 22nd as the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Society. This is the day in 1541 when Ignatius and his companions as members of a religious institute profess their solemn vows in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome. It is the equivalent and precedent for Jesuits taking final vows after their period of tertian formation.

The quote below is from Galatians 4:4-7, which is used as the first reading in the feast day’s liturgy.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Stephen, one of the seven deacons, works great wonders and signs. People from all over debate him, but they cannot withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Stephen assaults the people, elders, and scribes with the truth of God, which raises a furor. He is placed before Saul who assents to his execution. Persecution of the church reigns in Jerusalem. Paul enters houses to collect Christians; the disciples are dispersed; those who were scattered preached the word everywhere. Philip, on his way to Gaza, meets an Ethiopian eunuch, who asks to be baptized after hearing scripture opened for him. Saul, with murderous intent, travels to Damascus where he has an encounter with the Lord that his the beginning of his call to be a Christian. The church is at peace and is being built up so Peter visits all the towns. He cures paralytics and raises Tabitha from the dead in the name of Jesus.

Gospel: Jesus draws parallels to mind of Moses. He tells them not to work for food that perishes, but seek out the food that will give you eternal life. He reminds the people that it was God, not Moses, who fed the people manna in the wilderness. He equates himself with God – as someone much greater than Moses. Jesus, as the bread of life, tells the crowd that it is the will of the Father that all who see the Son and believes will have eternal life. Jesus is the key to the Father. It is he who will give eternal life. Jesus’ statement that “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” is difficult for some to hear and some leave him. Peter, speaking for the disciples, replies “to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Anselm, bishop and doctor was a monastic abbot in Normandy who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Church-state relations peppered his term, but he became known to the church because of his theological and philosophical treatises, mostly for his assertion about the existence of God – an idea greater than that which no other idea can be thought.

Friday: George, martyr, was killed in Palestine. He may have been a Roman soldier who organized a Christian community in what is now Iran. He became part of the Middle Ages imagination for his ideal of Christian chivalry and is thought to have slain a dragon. He became the patron of England and the nation adopted George’s Arms, a red cross on a white background, which is still part of the British flag.

Saturday: Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr, was a canon lawyer who became a Capuchin Franciscan in 1612. Prior to priesthood, he served the nobles in France, Italy and Spain and helped interpret legislation that served the poor. He was later appointed to the challenging task of preaching to the Protestants in Switzerland, where he was killed for being an agent for the king.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 18, 1906. At Rome, the death of Rev. Fr. Luis Martin, twenty-fourth General of the Society. Pope Pius X spoke of him as a saint, a martyr, a man of extraordinary ability and prudence.
• Apr 19, 1602. At Tyburn, Ven. James Ducket, a layman, suffered death for publishing a work written by Robert Southwell.
• Apr 20, 1864. Father Peter de Smet left St Louis to evangelize the Sioux Indians.
• Apr 21, 1926. Fr. General Ledochowski sent out a letter De Usu Machinae Photographicae. It stated that cameras should belong to the house, not the individual. Further, they should not be used for recreation or time spent on trifles rather than for the greater glory of God.
• Apr 22, 1541. Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn profession of vows in the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.
• Apr 23, 1644. A General Chapter of the Benedictines condemned the calumny that St Ignatius was not the real author of the Spiritual Exercises. A monk had earlier claimed that the matter was borrowed from a work by Garzia Cisneros.
• Apr 24, 1589. At Bordeaux, the Society was ordered to leave the city. It had been falsely accused of favoring the faction which was opposed to King Henry III.

Spirituality: True Love Heals

True love heals and affects spiritual growth. If we do not grow because of someone else's love, it is generally because it is a counterfeit form of love. True love is unconditional positive regard. Unconditionaly postive regard allows us to be whole and accept all the parts of ourselves. To be whole, we must unite all the shamed and split-off aspects of ourselves.

John Bradshaw

Friday, April 16, 2010

Literature: from War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, 1863-69

Yes, love (he thought again with perfect distinctness), but not that love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him. I knew that feeling of love which is the very essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbors; to love one’s enemies. To love everything – to love God in all His manifestations. Someone dear to one can be loved with human love; but an enemy can only be loved with divine love. And that was why I felt much joy when I felt that I loved that man. What happened to him? Is he still alive? … Loving with human love, one may pass from love to hatred; but divine love cannot change. Nothing, not even death, nothing can shatter it. It is the very nature of the soul…

Love is life. All, all that I understand, I understand only because I love. All is, all exists only because I love. All is bound up in love alone. Love is God, and dying means for me a particle of love, to go back to the universal and eternal source of love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poem: from The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe, Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1883

Wild air, world-mothering air,
Neastling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; does home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-fixed
Snowflake; that’s fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing’s life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life’s law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race –
Mary Immaculate,
Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess’s
Was deemed, dreamed; who
This one work has to do –
Let all God’s glory through,
God’s glory which would go
Through her and from her flow
Off, and no way but so.

I say that we are wound
With mercy round and round
As if with air: the same
Is Mary, more by name.
She, wild web, wondrous robe,
Mantles the guilty globe,
Since God has let dispense
Her prayers his providence:
Nay, more than almoner,
The sweet alms’ self is her
And men are meant to share
Her life as life does air.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spirituality: Silence and Solitude

Silence and solitude are the marks of spiritual maturity. They lead to peace and bliss. The spiritual life is an inner life and cannot be attained on the outside. The spiritual life is its own reward and seeks nothing beyond itself. Once we achieve inner peace and conscious contact, we want to overflow. This is the mark of truth and love to move toward goodness and transcendence.

The ancient philosophers called goodness, truth, beauty and love the transcendental properties of Being.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spirituality: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits

Historically there has been a union between Jesuits and other men [and women] in the common tasks that engage reflective human beings; in the sciences, in the arts, in education, in exploration, in social studies – Jesuits have been found.

And the value of this conjunction is that there would be [Jesuits] whose lives are continually consonant with the human enterprise, who penetrated it in some depth, and who bring their [Jesuit ministry and presence] into this area of humanity. This concern of Jesuits for the arts, the sciences, practical projects and speculative theory – this concern and engagement continually incarnates the word of God in parts of humanity in which otherwise it would be silent. The languages in which it is preached will differ, each diverse human concern offering its own structures of intelligibility and nuance. It is vitally important for the word of God to resound in these manifold and different structures. And for this it is imperative to have [Jesuits] who unite the ministry of their lives with an active and profound engagement in the diversely human.

From Michael J. Buckley, S.J., Dec. 1976

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spirituality: Kairos and Chronos

The conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Romans celebrates the present as a time of revelation of the mystery “kept secret for long ages [chronos]” (16:25). The word translates the condition of history as chronic, awaiting the special time of the healing advent of the Christ.

These chronic episodes, personal and cosmic, climax in the coming of God in Jesus. Kairos, in fact, refers to three different climaxes or end-times in the New Testament: the final and absolute end-time, brought on by God’s judgments (krisis); the final period of history introduced by Jesus’ coming; and specific points in history (individual or social) where one stage of life ends and another begins. John L. McKenzie describes this third meaning of kairos in the New Testament: “Each step in the process of time is a kairos in the sense that it is a critical time, a decisive moment which hastens or retards the kairos of salvation and judgment.” Some moments in personal and social time stand out in special significance. Ordinary duration is broken by the experience of kairos, which is, in Tillich’s words, “qualitatively fulfilled time, the moment that is creation and fate. We call this fulfilled moment, the moment of time approaching us as fate and decision, kairos.”

It is the peculiar features of kairos as end-time and as the saving presence of God that interests us in the context of adult crisis. Crises and passages have been seen to be end-times; the terror of such transitions is precisely that something is being lost, some part or understanding of the person is coming to an end. Crises are potentially kairotic moments in their vulnerability, their peculiar openness to learning and to the re-visioning of one’s life. For one who believes, a crisis is a place in which one might expect to encounter God. The anticipation of God’s illuminating presence in such crises is reinforced by an exploration of similar times in one’s past and God’s guiding presence.

A reflection on how we live in and use time can be aided by a review of chronos and kairos in our personal past. In such an exercise chronos would apply to those periods when life has moved along smoothly or at least busily. This can be called secular time, not because it is evil but because it is an ordinary and regular experience of time. Such periods can be filled with productivity or with boredom; what marks them as chronos are the characteristics of regularity and control. Kairos, then, may refer to transitions in one’s life, when the regular flow of time is broken and (often, at least) a sense of control is threatened. The experience is of something or someone breaking into one’s life. At first experienced as disorientation or loss, such a crisis or special time may, in retrospect, be recognized as a period of extraordinary growth. Often, it is only in such recollection that we can realize the mysterious presence of God. Such a religious “recovery” of the past teaches us about the uneven and unexpected sacredness of our adult lives.

Evelyn Eaton and James D. Whitehead, Christian Life Patterns

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday - Second Sunday of Easter

April 11, 2010

It was an extraordinary day for the disciples. First, Mary and the women come back to them with reports that the tomb is empty and then Peter reports that he has seen the Lord. They cling together and huddle in a room fearful that they will be sought after by the religious authorities since the Passover festival has concluded. After all, they not only lost Jesus, but they just had a death of God experience too. They thought they were doomed. With doors locked, Jesus stands in front of them that evening and twice wishes them “peace” and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them to take away their fear and give them courage. A week later Jesus repeats with action with the skeptical Thomas present this time around. I am left wondering whether they received any sleep that night. Can you imagine the thoughts that must have been running through their minds as they tried to comprehend the events that just occurred? They must have pinched themselves when they awoke the next morning to see if it was all a dream.

Jesus brings us into the divine life by granting us the gift of forgiveness – an act formerly done only by God, but before he does that he forgives the sins of the disciples by taking away their fear and wishing them peace. The events that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season attest to the fact that the fear and despair held onto by the Disciples has been removed and they have been able to proclaim the mystery of the Christ event with courage and joy. Something extraordinary happens to the disciples when they begin to understand Scripture in light of the life of Jesus. It shows the incredible effect of our faith when we truly experience that Christ has risen from the dead for you and me personally and that our God is a god of deliverance who intensely desires our friendship.

So if God delivers us, we might want to consider (1) what God has delivered us from and (2) what God delivers us for. It might be a good moment to recollect ourselves and examine our profound fears that may stop us from revealing our true selves to one another, e.g., fear of rejection, of force and violence, of being insignificant, of not finding deep meaning to life. So what might our lives look like if we imagine our worst fears removed from our consciousness? How might we act? What hobbies or interests might we pursue? What might we do that brings us life’s energy and happiness? It is Easter. Go ahead and daydream with Christ about what he might want to do with your life? Once those fears are removed by Christ, we can finally receive the type of peace that is so uncommon in this world, but that brings us the joy of the resurrection because we know that God cares intimately about all our life’s details and complexities. This is an amazing God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Quote for the Week

Excerpt from the Book of Revelation, the second reading:

When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Acts Peter and John are released from confinement and as they assembled with their friends, they prayed and the place shook and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They continued to speak the word of God with boldness. The community of believers lived together of one mind and heart and everything was had in common. The Sadducees in their jealously accost the disciples and imprison them, but during the night an angel of the Lord unlocked the doors to let the disciples go free. They preached in the temple area about their way of life. When questioned about the Sanhedrin’s order to stop preaching, Peter replied that they must obey God rather than men, which infuriated the Council. Gamaliel, a respected teacher, recommends patience and prudence to the Sanhedrin. If this is not of God, he says, it will fizzle out over time. They flogged the disciples who went home praising God for their suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus. As the number of disciples grew, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Seven reputable men were chosen, filled with the Holy Spirit, to assist in the service of others.

Gospel: Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night for further enlightenment and Jesus replies that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being born of water and Spirit. Jesus states that he is the unique revealer of God to the people because he has come from heaven where he has seen God. Jesus comes down from heaven because God sent his Son so the world might be saved through him. The Father loves the Son and has given over all authority to him. Jesus calls to mind images of Psalm 27 as the Good Shepherd he distributes bread to those who are reclining as much as they want. After the feeding, the disciples go down to the sea to cross it to Capernaum. They see Jesus walking on the sea and he assures them, “Do not be afraid. It is I.”

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Martin I, pope and martyr was killed in 65 because he fought the heresy that believed that Christ had only a divine will and not a human will. He is the last pope to be martyred. He was exiled to Constantinople and later to the Crimea where he starved and suffered misery.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.
• Apr 12, 1671. Francis Borgia, the 3rd general of the Society, was canonized by Pope Clement X.
• Apr 13, 1541. Ignatius was elected general in a second election, after having declined the results of the first election several days earlier.
• Apr 14, 1618. The father of John Berchmans is ordained a priest. John himself was still a Novice.
• Apr 15, 1610. The death of Fr. Robert Parsons, the most active and indefatigable of all the leaders of the English Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I.
• Apr 16, 1767. Pope Clement XIII wrote to Charles III of Spain imploring him to cancel the decree of expulsion of the Society from Spain, issued on April 2nd. The Pope's letter nobly defends the innocence of the Society.
• Apr 17, 1540. The arrival in Lisbon of Francis Xavier and Simon Rodriguez. Both were destined for India, but the latter was retained in Portugal by the King.

Thank you, Saints!

Thank you all for your prayers during my Thirty Day retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. My retreat was made easier by your care and affection. I am grateful to God for the many graces I have received. God is steadfast and generous.

Easter Blessing

From the Solemn Blessing of the Easter Season:

Through the resurrection of his Son, God has redeemed you and made you his children. May God bless you with joy. Amen.

The Redeemer has given you lasting freedom. May you inherit his everlasting life. Amen.

By faith you rose with him in baptism. May your lives be holy, so that you will be united with him forever. Amen.

May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

To search for prayer and Jesuit resources, in the blog search field type in the keywords: poem, prayer, song, spirituality, Jesuit, constitutions, photos, or specific phrases.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Prayer: Jerome Nadal, S.J.

Faith lifts you up and over to hope. Faith and hope lift you up and over to charity, to the Divine Power, to the Holy Spirit dwelling and working within you. All this opens the spiritual understanding of what it means to love God above all things and so to fulfill the first and highest law. To one who experiences the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…. all this is clear.

The Holy Spirit has given you the gift of union with Christ Jesus and his might. Use this gift assiduously, so that you may come to the spiritual insight that you are really understanding with his mind, choosing with his will, remembering with his memory, living and acting completely in Christ and not in yourself. To attain this perception in this life is to reach the highest perfection. It is really Divine Power at work. It brings an awesome sweetness.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Prayer: Mother Teresa’s Final Analysis

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win
Some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight;
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten;
Do good anyway

Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Prayer: Pope Leo I

Weakness is assumed by strength, lowliness by majesty, mortality by immortality, in order that one and the same Mediator between God and humanity might die in the one and rise in the other.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

Therefore once for all this short command is given to you: Love and do what you will. If you keep silent, keep silent by love. If you speak, speak by love. If you correct, correct by love. If you pardon, pardon by love. Let love be rooted in you, and from the root nothing but good can grow.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spirituality: Values Clarification

Sidney Simon and Kirschenbaum suggest that a value is not a value unless it has seven characteristics in it. As we choose to love ourselves, our self-value will be enhanced.

1. A value must be freely chosen.
2. It is chosen from a consideration of several alternatives.
3. It is chosen with clear knowledge of the consequences.
4. We prize it and cherish it.
5. We are to publicly proclaim it.
6. We are to act upon it.
7. We act on it repeatedly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Sunday

April 4, 2010

Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen as he said. Alleluia. Indeed! I write this note to you from Sevenhill, Australia (a place filled with the glory of God) where I am in the final week of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Easter in the southern hemisphere has a different feel to it. It is autumn so the nights are getting colder and the days shorter. On Holy Saturday, we turn our clocks (back!) to gain an extra hour to the day. The harvest has occurred and the earth is turning towards its winter slumber. It awaits the winter rains to replenish the dry earth. Oh, such a contrast to life in the northern hemisphere where new life is returning to the earth. But as much as it is different, Easter is very much the same. The world, all of creation, awaits the arrival of the Savior. The whole of creation waits in awe just groaning for God to produce his saving act through the fidelity of Jesus. The wonder, the awe, the stillness remains the same.

John’s Gospel brings us to the faithful Mary Magdala who came to the tomb while it was still dark and she saw the stone removed from the tomb. John uses the darkness as a symbol of not quite understanding what is happening. Mary runs away in terror, not realizing what has transpired. She remains in the dark. Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb and see the care with which the burial garments were treated. The beloved disciple comes to partial belief for it was still dark and they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The sudden, shocking event of the Resurrection takes time to understand when you are filled with grief, disillusionment, guilt and shame – perhaps the state of the mind of the disciples on that third day. Scripture holds the key for us in understanding the Christ event. For us, just like the disciples, it does not always rush to us in a moment of clarity.

We hear Peter speak weeks after the Resurrection about what God has done for us through Jesus of Nazareth. Notice his amazing boldness and clarity once he had a time to re-read Scripture and digest the meaning of the Resurrection. This was the same man who cowered in fear and publicly denied knowing his teacher, but it sinks it after a while. It courses through our veins. No one knows for sure what happened at this time, but the power and lives of the disciples and the early Christian community point to the surety of God’s saving act. Let’s take time this week to praise God for what he has done for us in saving us through Jesus Christ. Let’s ask God to reveal to us the meaning of this event for us personally. It will probably be a private moment. And when Easter does come for us, may we have the bravery of the first disciples to boldly proclaim God’s goodness for all the world to hear! Alleluia! He is risen indeed!

Quote for the Week

From the Easter Sunday morning sung Sequence preceding the Gospel proclamation:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems; Christ, who only is sinless,
reconciles sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living, the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
Bright angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen; to Galilee he goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning! Amen. Alleluia.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The readings from the Acts of the Apostles describe how the disciples proclaim the Easter message of salvation through their words and works. We first hear Peter stand in front of the crowds with the Eleven at Pentecost to proclaim that God raised Jesus, whom you killed, from the dead. They are witnesses. As the people repent, Peter urges them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins so they may receive the Holy Spirit. Peter and John then demonstrate their power to heal by raising up a crippled man to walk in the name of Jesus. The prophets and scriptures point to the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. However, these great deeds raise the ire of the temple authorities and religious leaders. They bring John and Peter in for questioning who point to the power of Jesus in healing the once-lamed man. The leaders despise the boldness of Peter and John and order them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, to which they respond that they must obey God who will judge the faith of the world.

Gospel: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary run away from the empty tomb when they encounter Jesus who tells them “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” In another account, Mary Magdalene weeps outside the tomb until Jesus calls her by name. She tells the others that she has seen the Lord. The two disciples, despairing because of the failure of Jesus’ mission, head for Emmaus when they encounter the Lord on their journey and during the breaking of the bread. As the disciples are recounting what has occurred, Jesus stands in their midst to wish them peace and forgiveness. It was written that the Christ would suffer and be raised again. In John’s account, the disciples encounter the risen Jesus as they return to their livelihood fishing. Jesus eats with the disciples the third time this week. In Mark, Jesus visits the disciples and instructs them to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Saints of the Week

Each day of the Octave of Easter is a solemnity and these days take precedence over any saint’s days.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber was ordained a deacon in Paris.
• Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lellemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
• Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.
• Apr 7, 1541. Ignatius was unanimously elected general, but he declined to accept the results.
• Apr 8, 1762. The French Parliament issued a decree of expulsion of the Jesuits from all their colleges and houses.
• Apr 9, 1615. The death of William Weston, minister to persecuted Catholics in England and later an author who wrote about his interior life during that period.
• Apr 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

During the Easter season, we renew our Baptismal promises while new members are baptized into our faith community. Typically, we recite our profession of faith each Sunday, but during the Easter season it is customary for the priest to ask the faithful to renew their promise to reject sin and to live according to our baptismal promises. It evokes a more active participation of the faith we believe.

Dear friends, through the paschal mystery we have been buried with Christ in baptism, so that we may rise with him to a new life. Now that we have completed our Lenten observance, let us renew the promises we made in baptism when we rejected Satan and his works, and promised to serve God faithfully in his holy Catholic Church.

Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children? I do.
Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? I do.
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness? I do.

Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? I do.

God the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever. Amen.

Note:

I am on my long retreat and may not be able to send out the weekly email, but I will update my blog regularly. Access predmore.blogspot.com for weekly and daily updates or predmoresj.blogspot.com for my tertian program news.

To search for prayer and Jesuit resources, in the blog search field type in the keywords: poem, prayer, song, spirituality, Jesuit, constitutions, photos, or specific phrases.

Poem: The Little Birds of Francis

The little birds fly to ask me what I have seen in the heavens: I saw your little souls long.

Our feeble wings
knock against
a blue windowpane, Lord.
We wait, we sing
every day at your door.

We gaze at the sun,
above the trees flutter
and sing since the dawn.
Are we forever
to linger on earth
in this world of yours, Lord?

There is no penance,
Is there no reward?
Lost in our song,
one day of the year
among the trees, we'll expire,
entangled in the leaves.

The wind will lift us,
the earth will receive us
buring the dry wings.
Will none of us, Lord
sing in the heavens
facing your throne?

Is not our singing,
pleasing to you, Lord?
Our singing choose,
Our waiting use.
From the unknown,
deliver the birds on high, Lord.

From the ends of the earth
unbounded and vast,
from pine and beech
from our home
we'll fly, we'll flutter
to your side, Lord.

Whatever your will -
too deep for the birds -
on earth and in heaven
your eyes to please,
your smile to see,
we wing, crowding in the trees

by Jerzy Liebert

Friday, April 2, 2010

Poem: On Bliss by Paul Claudel

There is no one of my brothers [or sisters]... that I can do without... In the heart of the meanest miser, the most squalid prostitute, the most miserable drunkard, there is an immortal soul with holy aspirations, which deprived of daylight, worships in the night. I hear them speaking when I speak and weeping when I go down on my knees. There is no one of them I can do without. Just as there are many stars in the heavens and their power of calculation is beyond my reckoning so also there are many living beings... I need them all in my praise of God. There are many living souls but there is not one of them that I'm not in communion in the sacred apex where we utter together the Our Father.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spirituality: The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

Children need mirroring and echoing from their primary caretakers. In the first three years of our life each of us needs to be admired and taken seriously. We need to be accepted for the very one we are.

Good mirroring from a parent with good boundaries:

1. The child's aggressive impulses can be neutralized because they do not threaten the parent.

2. The child's striving for autonomy is not experienced as a threat to the parent.

3. The child is allowed to experience and express ordinary impulses, such as jealousy, rage, sexuality, defiance, becaues the parents have not disowned these feelings in themselves.

4. The child does not have to please the parent and can develop his own needs at his own developmental pace.

5. The child can depend on and use her parents because they are separate from her.

6. The parent's independence and good boundaries allow the child to separate self and object representation.

7. Because the child is allowed to display ambivalent feelings, he can learn to regard himself as the caregiver as "both good and bad," rather than splitting off certain parts as good and splitting them from the bad.

8. The beginning of true object love is possible because the parents love the child as a separate object.