Sunday, October 31, 2010

Todos los Santos

Alegremonos todos en el Senor al celebrar este dia de fiesta en honor de todos los Santos. Los angeles se alegran de esta solemnidad y alaban a una al Hijo de Dios.

Solemn Blessing for All Saints

God is the glory and joy of all his saints,
whose memory we celebrate today.
May his blessing be with you always. Amen.

May the prayers of the saints deliver you from present evil;
may their example of holy living
turn your thoughts to the service of God and neighbor. Amen.

God's holy church rejoices that God's chidren
are one with the saints in lasting peace.
May you come to share with them
in all the joys of our Father's house. Amen.

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

Spirituality: Claims for Faith

Faith, at its best, is a way of knowing, a way of being committed to the world and a way of acknowledging that we human persons are not alone. Indeed, we never were. To be human is to be in dialogue.

Adrian Lyons from Imagine Believing

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 31, 2010

The infamous tax collector, Zacchaeus, is regarded as the type of man who would never be allowed into God's kingdom. He is a toll collector, which puts him at odds with the faithful Jews who want to overthrow Roman rule, and he is dishonest because he has defrauded many in his craft. Also, he is a wealthy man and Jesus makes it clear that it is difficult for one who is rich to enter God's kingdom. Despite wealth, he is eager to see Jesus. He does not fear the judgment Jesus may have about his wealth.

Luke's Gospel shows that God's kingdom is inclusive. Many people who are discarded by this world's ruling elite are welcome in this kingdom. The wealthy are invited too, but a rich person who struggles with attachments to possessions finds it difficult to accept the invitation. Zacchaeus is free from those attachments and is open to the message of salvation Jesus brings. The moral here is the outcast (ironically, a rich man) is not outside the pale of God's chosen people. The extent of this inclusivity shakes up even the closest followers of Jesus, as it once did the religious leaders.

Ironically, the name "Zacchaeus" means "clean." His name reveals his changed nature. He is a man who used to be a sinner, but he resolves to change his ways. He is not a sinner in the present tense because he is now living in the manner God wants him to live: as a man who is generous and just. This new way of living increases his desire to see Jesus. He is happy because his true self has now emerged into reality.

Jesus announces to Zacchaeus that salvation has come to his house. This statement makes the claim that the presence of Jesus makes possible what is humanly impossible. Paul affirms this in his letter to the Thessalonians when he tells people that the Christ within us will help us powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and that Christ will be glorified in us.

We are to be like Zacchaeus who is open to the possibilities that Jesus offers. We can let the presence of Jesus turn our lives around just as it did with Zacchaeus. This involves great risk - because we can lose all we gained in life. This involved great trust - because we primarily rely upon our own resources and we haven't struggled enough with our own attachments to possessions. It would be good if we could place ourselves in the hands of God just as the author of Wisdom does in the first reading. He recognizes God's mission of mercy and is filled with wonder and gratitude.

God's mercy is shown with Zacchaeus because we see Jesus acting once again as the good shepherd - as the one who seeks out the lost and brings him home. God does not place obstacles in our path. God removes them. We keep putting them back in our way. God's invitation has no limits or boundaries. Tell Christ what it would take for you to take one step beyond a boundary that still binds you. Let his presence do something you might not expect.

Quote for the Week

Prayer: Pope John XXIII

True peace is born of doing the will of God, and bearing with patience the sufferings of this life, and does not come from following one’s own whim or selfish desire, for this always brings, not peace and serenity, but disorder and discontent.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The week begins with reflections on the faithful departed and then continues with Paul's letter to the Philippians when he tells the people to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. The mark of a believer is joy. He tells the people that circumcision is no longer the sign of God's elect - the possession of the Holy Spirit is the real sign. One's citizenship is in heaven and one is to conform one's action to this reality. We do this when we imitate Christ. In all circumstances, we are to rejoice because of the wondrous event God has done for us in Christ.

Gospel: The journey of Jesus heads to the cross. He tells disciples that they may have to turn away from family to join his new family. One is to prepare oneself for this new life. Jesus tells two parables of finding what was once lost to illustrate the joy God feels when a sinner repents. He illustrates in parables the importance of safeguarding the words of Jesus in a way similar to a master who entrusts his steward with his wealth. The believer is to prove himself trustworthy, even if it is with dishonest wealth, so he can be seen as trustworthy by others.

Saints of the Week

Monday: The Solemnity of All Saints honors the countless faithful believers - living and dead - who have helped us along in our faith. We have a liturgical calendar filled with canonized saints; we have a list of blesseds and those minor saints who no longer appear on the calendar. We have particular saints for each part of the world. We also have the many people in our lives who live out the Gospel values, as emphasized in the Beatitudes, who we appreciate and imitate.

Tuesday: All Souls Day is the commemoration of all the faithful departed. November is known as All Souls Month as we take the entire month to remember those who have died as we hasten towards the end of the liturgical year and the great feast of Christ the King. As a tradition, we have always remembered our dead as a way of keeping them alive to us and giving thanks to God for their lives.

Wednesday: Rupert Mayer, priest, was a Jesuit who resisted the Nazi Third Reich government. In 1937, he was placed in protective custody. He was eventually released when he agreed that he would no longer preach. He died while saying Mass in 1945 of a stroke.

Martin de Porres, Religious, was a Peruvian born of a Spanish knight and a Panamanian Indian woman. Because he was not pure blood, he lost many privileges in the Spanish ruling classes. He became a Dominican and served the community in many menial jobs. He was known for tending to the sick and the poor and for keeping a rigorous prayer life.

Thursday: Charles Borromeo lived in the 16th century and at age 22 was made the Bishop of Milan as he was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was a leading Archbishop in the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent. During a plague epidemic, Borromeo visited the hardest hit areas so he could provide pastoral services to the sick.

Friday: Jesuits set aside a special day, All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus, to remember specifically all the deceased Jesuits who make it onto our own liturgical calendar. We remember not only the major saints on the calendar, but also those who are in the canonization process and hold the title Blessed, like Peter Faber. We pray for the souls of all deceased Jesuits during the month in our province listing of the dead (necrology.)

This Week in Jesuit History

• Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.
• Nov 1, 1956. The Society of Jesus was allowed in Norway.
• Nov 2, 1661. The death of Daniel Seghers, a famous painter of insects and flowers.
• Nov 3, 1614. Dutch pirates failed to capture the vessel in which the right arm of Francis Xavier was being brought to Rome.
• Nov 4, 1768. On the feast of St Charles, patron of Charles III, King of Spain, the people of Madrid asked for the recall of the Jesuits who had been banished from Spain nineteen months earlier. Irritated by this demand, the king drove the Archbishop of Toledo and his Vicar General into exile as instigators of the movement.
• Nov 5, 1660. The death of Alexandre de Rhodes, one of the most effective Jesuit missionaries of all time. A native of France, he arrived in what is now Vietnam in 1625.
• Nov 6, 1789. Fr. John Carroll of Maryland was appointed to be the first Bishop of Baltimore.

Jesuit Vocation Day

November 5th is set aside each year in the Jesuit calendar to promote vocations. We do so because it is the Feast of All Jesuit Saints and Blesseds. We remember all the priests and brothers who have served the church faithfully and who are part of our Jesuit Institute. We sincerely want to invite men who believe they have a call from God to serve the church in the footsteps of Ignatius and his first companions.

It is a good life. It is a difficult vocation at times, but nothing in life is every really easy. It is amazing to see all the good that is done in the world by Jesuits and their faithful companions.

To Young Men: Please contact a Jesuit if you want to explore God's promptings in your life.

To Mothers: You are invaluable in sponsoring your son's vocation. Please strengthen the church by guiding your son into the priesthood or religious life. You will never lose him. You will gain more companions that you ever thought possible. You, your son, and the church will receive fine gifts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Homily: Luke 14 - The healing of the man with dropsy

Luke uses food symbolism a lot in his Gospel. Today we have another dinner scene in which Luke emphasizes the inclusive nature of the banquet one finds in the Kingdom of heaven. This is set in contrast to the leading Pharisees meal to which Jesus is invited. We doubt the man with dropsy was invited. Luke answers questions his community faces: should they eat with the unclean? what renders one clean? who is to be invited to Christian meals? We know that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and calls many to his eschatological banquet, but in the time of Jesus, many understood that the lame, sick, lepers, the blind, and other categories of people were unfit for the kingdom. Thankfully, the teachings of Jesus transcends those boundaries.

It comes as no surprise that Jesus boldly makes his point in the home of a leading Pharisee - a high-ranking religious figure. Through his actions, Jesus is showing these authorities how wrong they are in interpreting the reign of God. The kingdom on earth will reveal the true nature of God - as one who is merciful with a preferential option for the poor and the marginalized. God's vision respects the dignity of all human beings and is not bound by the laws that God gave to the Jews. Most importantly, God is not like the religious leaders who, though they see the suffering of others, will sit back in a clamoring silence when someone does the good and the right - at the expense of the laws.

Jesus transgresses these very boundaries when the man with dropsy appears before all these high-powered men gathered at table. The atmosphere must have been emotionally charged as he appears before the Pharisees and Jesus. It must have been awkward for him. I would feel self-conscious. Was he brought there as an example? Did he appear by chance? Or did he appear on his own in a desperation attempt to be healed? Regardless, he is interrupting an important dinner conversation. All eyes are on him. He is a man reduced to his illness - no longer regarded as fully human, but a man with dropsy. And as he is there, they discuss him as if he is not - like two doctors would discuss clinically an illness in front of a patient as if he is not there. Perhaps he was very courageous, but it seems more likely that he was stripped of his dignity. It could have been humiliating for him to intrude into this elite dinner party.

Jesus is moved to heal the man though he is aware of the social consequences. And as the scholars and Pharisees see this as a gross disregard for the Sabbath observance, I imagine they were extremely curious to see the way in which Jesus heals. What is it like? Does he use magic words? Is there a prescribed formula? Is it a healing touch? Is the man's body transformed immediately like we see in the movies? Where does his power come from? Healing someone has to pull forth powerful emotions from Jesus. It seems as if it is a great personal moment of intimacy. Then as now, we don't like intimacy shown in public at all. We sometimes read Gospel accounts matter-of-factly, but I would be certain this man returns a great display of affection to Jesus.. The emotions of Jesus probably were riding high because he just eased the suffering of a man in need. Whenever we do good, we feel satisfied and contented. From our personal experience, we know we face unexpected opposition when we try to do the good and the right.

I doubt Jesus felt welcomed when he returned to that dinner table. The eating and drinking must have stopped. You could cut the hostile silence with a knife. Did some men get up and leave? Was Jesus even welcome to sit at the table and continue his meal or was it too awkward for him to sit and stay? You cannot sit and eat at table with someone with whom you are angry or don't like. Eating with another is a display of intimacy and friendship.

These reactions remind us of the difficulties we face in our healing. Notice the great opposition that confront us when we want to change. Many people really don't want us to change. We are to always remain that person with such and such a illness, or disability, or addiction. We are defined by our conditions. And people around us build dependencies around our conditions - and after a while - these are comfortable. To be healed means we will no longer need those dependencies. The fundamental relationship between people is fundamentally altered. Few people want you or expect you to be healed. And sometimes we don't even want our own healing. Our self-defeating ways keep us bound by our conditions. We become attached to them as they are all we know. We depend on them as explanations for our behavior. They define us essentially. While we may speak the language of healing, we too often say "no" to advice or references or recommendations. We say "no" to the loving intentions of others. We reject their love for us and we reject God's loving reach out towards us. We remain bound through our own volition.

In whatever manner the man with dropsy was brought to that dinner, we have to be more like him. He risks personal embarrassment and shame to stand before such high profile men to petition for his healing. We have to be open to the healing that Jesus offers us. We want to look primarily at his compassionate gestures and turn aside from the hostile, yet curious stares of the scholars and Pharisees in our lives. We are to be open to the intimacy that Jesus extends to us - for we know Jesus is revealing the heart and attitude of God to us. We know that his dinner invitation includes everyone - regardless of condition - including you - even when the passive-aggressive, hostile silence of the religious leaders or anyone who holds authority over you stares you down.

Live in the mercy of God. Let Christ heal you and set you free. Imagine how much richer that food will taste when you eat at the Lord's banquet free from the shackles of this life. Many liberated and healed people are anxiously waiting for you to join them. Accept Christ's invitation.

Prayer: Alphonsus Rodriquez

Jesus, love of my soul, center of my heart!
Why am I not more eager
to endure pains and tribulations
for love of you.
when you, my God,
have suffered so much for me?
Come, then, every sort of trial in the world,
for this is my delight, to suffer for Jesus.
This is my joy, to follow my Savior,
and to find my consolation
with my consoler on the cross.

This is my happiness, this my pleasure:
to live with Jesus, to walk with Jesus,
to converse with Jesus,
to suffer with and for him:
this is my treasure.

Memorial: October 31

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J. - On Love and Fear

What is love?"

"The total absence of fear," said the Master.

“What is it we fear?"

"Love," said the Master.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

It seemed impossible, my Lord, to abandon you so completely. And since I did forsake you so many times I cannot but fear. For when you withdrew a little from me, I fell to the ground. Although I abandoned you, you did not abandon me so completely as not to turn to raise me up by always holding out your hand to me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prayer: Maria Skobtsova

I am your message, Lord. Throw me like a blazing torch into the night, that all may see and understand what it means to be a disciple.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Email Distribution

If you would like to add your name to the private, undisclosed weekly email distribution list, please send your email to predmoresj@yahoo.com

Spirituality: God's Silence, or the death of God?

Since the 19th century, European literature has been haunted by the overwhelming silence of a world in which no dialogue partner exists, capable of knowing us at the depths where we long to be known. In on Divine Companion is discovered, we beg or bully our dearest companions to perform that miracle for us, and we lacerate them, and ourselves, when they fall short. The rediscovery of God may in fact render us less liabl to distort relationships with those we love, and prevent us demanding from others more than they can give.

Adrian Lyons, Imagine Believing

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reflection: A Sunday Afternoon's Walk

This afternoon I took a leisurely seven mile walk as I had some free time on my schedule. A weekend retreat for women in recovery was ending and a pervading quiet was settling in at the retreat house. The gusty winds of the past few days have ceased and the outside temperature warmed up to 57 degrees (14 C.) The clouds over the ocean appear as if a fog covers it. The clouds are evenly white with gentle curves. It looks like a mid-November sky although it is much warmer day.

I can smell the moisture in the air. Precipitation will be light if there is any at all. The moisture allows me to notice the earthy soil as decaying leaves form a blanket or browns and fading reds on the ground. The pine trees' fragrance has a steady scent. The stillness from above makes me notice the overlooked aspects of creation below.

I listen to the Estonian composer, Arvo Part, on my IPod and set out for my daily exercise. My mind does its usual wanderings as I spend part of my time in prayer and some time noticing the beauty of the land. I tell Christ about what has happened with my family during the past week and then spend some time telling him about my Jesuit life. The graces I received in Australia are still strong and I continue to offer my thanks to Christ for rewarding me generously. I tell Christ about the events of my week and the people who have moved me or are in need of prayers. Walking while praying helps me get everything out. It does not replace my contemplative prayer; it helps me clear out the cobwebs so my prayer in stillness can be more focused upon Christ. Somehow these forward physical steps assist my spiritual steps.

People bring beauty into their lives. The great mansions of Gloucester and the small houses alike do well to keep up their properties and these seasonal decorations describe the houses' and owners' personalities. Most of these decorations are flowers, gourds, stalks, or other natural products that make for tasteful seasonal displays. I find it incredible the variety of late-autumn flowers that appear so fresh and at the height of their lifespan. I would have thought that any cold would have diminished their growth and beauty. Beauty seems to bring up in less than favorable conditions.

While I admire the beauty of these houses and properties, I am past the point of dreaming of having my own place. I have lived in many places and met some truly good people along the way. I like staying in touch with them and letting them know I still care about them, but I feel like I am more truly living for Christ. No place seems like home and yet everyplace seems like home.

It seems natural to want to feel rooted, to have permanence, and to feel secure. Right now, I would feel hampered by possessing my own property. While I do like to maintain and care for the houses where I am assigned, I no longer feel as if I want to build a home. On the contrary, I want to give away much of what I do have. Perhaps it is the season we are in when the daylight leaves us more quickly than we want and we think about the cycle of life more intensely. I also care less for building my own status or honor. I feel freer to let my life be more about living it for Christ.

I consider how much death is a part of life. I am praying for many people who are sick or in need of surgery or are merely having a difficult time with some aspect of their lives. I feel for them and want them to do well and to thrive. I want them to be healthy and happy and to know how much the Lord cares for them. I realized the sadness a person feels when a loved one has died. The memories of these people remain with us and always will, especially as we advance towards our own death. Life will continue without us and we have to choose each day how we will best live it.

Death does not need drama. I want to be ready for it whenever it comes and I want to live a long life with good health and caring friends. I want to make the best choices I can for my happiness each day and want to live and die well. I want to take the words of the preacher Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes to heart: enjoy life, recreate well, choose your own happiness. I want to live in the freedom God extends to us. I want to be true to the Creator's hope for me. To do anything otherwise would be to act falsely.

Death comes to us all. I choose to live for Christ and to bring his message to anyone who wants to hear it. At this stage in my life, I realize my efforts and activities are not worth all that much. I have diminishing illusions about the great work I can do. I am settling into the reality that Christ merely wants to be with me and that he wants me to live as joyfully as I can. That's all. If I can notice the ways God gives us so much and gives us each other and I live in gratitude for people and their gifts, then I am doing rather well and I will be content in life. Give me only your grace. That's enough for me.

I enjoyed my walk today.

Prayer: Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Of the many promises Our Lord Jesus Christ did reveal to Saint Margaret Mary in favor of souls devoted to His Sacred Heart the principal ones are as follows:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 24, 2010

The parable Jesus tells to people convinced of their own righteousness gives us a chance to reflect on our own righteous presumptions. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus compares two people praying in the temple: a self-important Pharisee and a traitorous tax collector. The Pharisee counts his blessings and tells the Lord God about the ways he tries to be faithful. He tries to be a good man. The tax collector assumes a different posture and attitude - he realizes he depends upon the mercy of God. He knows this mercy is undeserved because of the egregious sins he committed.

Consider first the direction of each man's prayer. The Pharisee addresses God but talks only about himself and his efforts to be good. He wants God to know the good he has done and he spews forth a litany of good works. He is proud of himself because he lives nobly. Although his actions are laudable, he is not a virtuous man. His effort to be righteous merely does not go the whole distance.

The tax collector similarly addresses God and simply asks for mercy. He needs mercy because he did not meter it out to others. His prayer focuses on what God has done and can do for him. He knows he is dependent upon God for mercy because left to his own, he will fail. His heart pleads for God's intervention in his life because of the shame and guilt he carries. He wants to feel better connected to God and he waits for God's next move.

If we consider the ways in which the two relate to others we see a dramatic difference. The Pharisee pulls himself away from those people with whom he does not want to associate. This is not a fruit of real prayer. Prayer connects us to others and draws us together into a unified whole. Prayer makes us want to be closer to others and helps us to see the humanity and divinity in each other. The tax collector realizes he has been separated by his own actions and desires to be brought back into a community.

Of course, this parable exaggerates the two men and we do not want to get caught up in particulars of their characterization. We want to see that we are like each of them at times. We have to examine with the Lord those situations in our lives when we distance ourselves from others; we have to examine those situations when we are separated and want a healing reconciliation. The key to it is to allow the Lord to help us see what is stirring in each of us. Notice God before you dwell upon yourselves.

Prayer is healthy when we address the Lord and ask him to help us see the dynamics present within us. We will flip back to our Pharisee-like behavior and tell God about our actions. When we do that, we turn our attention back to God to contemplate his abiding presence. True Ignatian contemplation will bring up the stuff of our present lives as we meditate upon God's life, but our focus remains on God's presence to us. When we do this, we are like the poor tax collector who learns to depend upon God's incomparable mercy. We become grateful to God who helps us deepen our trust in him. We all want to develop a more secure basis for greater trust in the Lord.

Quote for the Week

Prayer: Socrates

Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Ephesians, Paul addresses the believers' moral life urging them to imitate God who has forgiven everyone their sins and has shown patience and steadfastness. Each person is to respect and honor the other in imitation of the ways Christ has honored God. All are to be treated with kindness for God resides in the soul of each believer. We belong to a community. We are heirs to God's promise. We are in the household of God with Christ as the head. In Philippians, Paul prays in the gratitude for the partnership in remaining steadfast to the Gospel. He rejoices that the proclamation of the Gospel will continue, even during his imprisonment. Paul longs to be with Christ and he realizes Christ wants him to remain in the flesh for the church's benefit.

Gospel: Jesus heals a woman suffering from an 18-year long crippling infirmity and is rebuked because he does it on a Sabbath. Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed and baking yeast. He tells the crowds to enter the narrow gate because many who presume they will enter the kingdom of heaven will not be allowed. Only those who Jesus knows well will be invited. Foreigners from all lands will be invited before many of the Israelites. The actions of Jesus incur wrath at a Sabbath meal in a leading Pharisees' home when he cures a man of his dropsy. He then tells the invited guests not to jostle for the best seats but to choose the lowest so the host may elevate him in stature. Anyone who humbles himself before God will be exalted.

Saints of the Week

Thursday: Simon and Jude, Apostles, are mentioned twice by the Evangelist Luke, but little is known about them. Simon is thought to be the Zealot - to distinguish him from Simon Peter - and Jude (Judas) is distinguished from Iscariot. Simon is thought to have association with the Zealot nationalistic movement that wanted to overthrow Roman authority. Jude is also called Thaddeus and is the patron for hopeless causes. Both were martyred. I find it astounding that we know so little of the Apostles upon whose faith the church was built.

This Week in Jesuit History

• October 24, 1759: 133 members of the Society, banished from Portugal and put ashore at Civita Vecchia, were most kindly received by Clement XIII and by the religious communities, especially the Dominicans.
• Oct 25, 1567. St Stanislaus Kostka arrived in Rome and was admitted into the Society by St Francis Borgia.
• Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.
• Oct 27, 1610. The initial entrance of the Jesuits into Canada. The mission had been recommended to the Society by Henry IV.
• Oct 28, 1958. The death of Wilfrid Parsons, founder of Thought magazine and editor of America from 1925 to 1936.
• Oct 29, 1645. In the General Chapter of the Benedictines in Portugal, a statement published by one of their order, that said St Ignatius had borrowed the matter in his Spiritual Exercises from a Benedictine author, was indignantly repudiated.
• Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.

Halloween

Halloween is the third most commercialize holiday following Christmas and Valentine's Day. It has taken on a completely secular character. It is associated with violent horror movies or witchcraft on the one hand or with funny costumes, candy, and harvest themes on the other. Lost is the association with the holy day that follows it on the calendar - All Saints Day.

For Christians, Halloween serves as a good reminder that our souls are battlegrounds for the evil spirits and the Holy Spirit. Let us take seriously that we are to pray to the Lord God to dispel the darkness brought about by these evil spirits so we can be a people who walk in the light of Christ who sanctifies all who believe in him.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Prayer: Robert Southwell, S.J.

Seeing therefore that all our troubles, penalties, restraints, and afflictions are but means to remind us of our state and the dangers of our profession, and but seeds of eternal glory, how much soever they may seem covered and corrupted here on earth, let us solace ourselves in hope of our joyful harvest. We are but pilgrims here; we have no place of abode, but seek a future place of rest. If the way had been filled with pleasures, with true delights, we should easily have been drawn aside in our journey towards heaven, attracted and withheld by the pleasant view and desire of these allurements. God has therefore made our journey tedious, uncomfortable and distressing, that we may hasten to our repose, and swiftly run over the course of this life.

Those are the two key meditations that help me get through the day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lecture: Ignatian Exercises for Seekers

Last night, I attended a lecture at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry given by Roger Haight, S.J. on providing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola to contemporary seekers. His lecture was based on his work at Union Theological College in New York City where he offered a course on the Spiritual Exercises to students of diverse religious backgrounds. Students are Buddhists, Unitarians who self-define themselves as non-Christians, and nominal Christian without any formal religious experience.

Haight defined seeker as one who does not feel settled within a definite faith community, wants more coherence, greater direction, or a comprehensive meaning to the questions in life. One seeks answers to large questions of meanings and purpose. The seeker is a broad and inclusive term and does not refer to everyone even though a seeking component exists in all of us. He chose to offer this class as the seeker is becoming normative in society as many people are secular or schooled in a religious faith, but is not moved by the system in which they stand.

Spirituality is defined as the way people live - in light of a horizon of dealing with ultimate questions to human existence. Spirituality is not only lifestyle. It is the way in which one makes decisions and finds one's compass in life.

Within this context, Haight maintains that everyone can imaginatively enter into the story of Jesus - highlighting Jesus as a human being. The humanity of Jesus is key to universal relevance. We need to find a language that accommodates two audiences - the transcendent divine and the fellow human traveler (that was ratified during the Council of Chalcedon.)

In his talk, Haight outlined three exercises within the Spiritual Exercises as a point of reference: 1.) Seeking Principles and a Foundation, 2.) The Call of the King, and 3.) Finding God in all Things (Contemplation to attain Love.)

In Seeking Principles and a Foundation, Haight stresses human existence is freedom. He notes that we must seek those actions that nurture freedom in self and others, that freedom is most itself when it is not weighed down with attachments, and that we find meaning and purpose in existence when we choose.

In The Call of the King, he says that for Christians, the only place to find transcendence in the world is in the person of Jesus; for a non-Christian, it is in some other place, but one can appeal to Jesus as a leader who appeals to human freedom with a divine cause. The actions of Jesus represent what God is like. The actions of Jesus provide a template for complete human freedom.

In Find God in All Things, Haight refers to creation spirituality as it is transformed in the context of a personal God revealed by Jesus. Creation an existence become personal gifts that call for gratitude. One's action is motivated by the fundamental moral attitude of gratitude.

Haight's motivation is to reach out to those who are seeking and are not finding much connection with institutionalized religion. He roots spirituality within the story of creation with a cosmic personalism mediated by Jesus. One sees a radical commitment to the world and the people in it as responses of love to the Creator. Eschatology is the complete personal freedom within the Creator's freedom.

Article: "Pope places his mark on College of Cardinals" by Thomas Reese, S.J.

By Thomas J. Reese, S.J., senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University .

With the appointment of 20 cardinal electors, Pope Benedict XVI continues to put his mark on the College of Cardinals, which will eventually elect his successor. Benedict has now appointed 40% of the college, with the rest chosen by his predecessor. Granted his age, these could easily be the cardinals who will choose the next pope.

The appointments will be made official at a Vatican consistory on November 20, which will bring the college up to 121 electors under the age of 80, one more elector than the rules allow. The pope dispensed himself from the rules. In the unlikely chance the pope died before the consistory, the cardinal designates would not be cardinals and could not enter the conclave.

Change in the College of Cardinals is always incremental. As cardinals die or turn 80, they create vacancies in the college that the pope can fill. This pope, like his predecessor, continues to appoint men who reflect his own views on theology and other issues facing the church. The likelihood of these conservative cardinals electing someone who would institute radical change in the church is extremely unlikely.

A major difference between the cardinals appointed by the two popes is that while John Paul reduced the percentage of Italian and curial cardinals in the college, and Benedict is bringing them back into prominence. After the November consistory, curial cardinals will make up about 28% of the college, up from 24% when Benedict was elected. In fact, half of the new appointees were from the Vatican curia.

Increasing the number of curial cardinals would help guarantee the election of a conservative candidate. More Italians increases the likelihood of the election to the papacy of an Italian pope.

One of John Paul's major goals in appointing cardinals was to increase the number of cardinals from Eastern Europe , from which he came. The percentage of the college from Eastern Europe went up to 10.4% at the end of his reign, from 6.1% when he was elected. He reduced the size of the Italian bloc in order to get red hats for Eastern Europe .

When John Paul died, the Italians were only 16.5% of the college, while at his election they were 23.7%. After the November consistory, Italians will make up 20.7% of the College of Cardinals, a number equal to all of the rest of Western Europe and greater than all of Latin America .

Also increased by Benedict is the representation of the United States from 9.6% at the 2005 conclave to 10.7% after the November consistory.

In order to increase the number of Italians and Americans, Benedict had to reduce slightly the percentage from Latin American, Asia, Oceania, Canada and other parts of Europe . The percentage from Africa has remained stable under Benedict.

Most of the appointments were not surprising. For example, heads of major curial offices, like Archbishop Raymond Burke, were expected to get red hats. But did the pope really have to promote the heads of the offices for culture, economic affairs, Cor Unum, St. Paul 's Outside the Walls and the patron of the Knights of Malta? Some of them, perhaps, but all of them? (Elsewhere I have argued that no curial officials should be made cardinals.)

There were few surprises among the new cardinals from archdioceses. With Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington over 80 years of age, it was time to make Archbishop Donald Wuerl a cardinal. Nor was it a surprise that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York did not get a red hat since his predecessor is alive and under 80 years of age. Cardinal Edward Egan will turn 80 in April 2012, soon after which Dolan will be made a cardinal.

Even though the pope exceeded by one the number of vacancies to be filled, the pope still had to pass over archbishops in archdioceses like Dublin, Florence, Utrecht, Toledo, Minsk-Mohilev, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Ouagadougou, Antananarivo, Abuja, and Tokyo. They will have to wait until next time.

Many felt Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin should have been rewarded with a red hat for his work cleaning up the sex abuse crisis in Ireland . Since he is only 65, he still has time to become a cardinal in the future.

On the other hand, people were surprised that two retired residential archbishops got the nod. If an archbishop does not become a cardinal while he is in office, he usually never gets it.

The College of Cardinals is not a young group. The average age of the electors is 71, even though they are booted out at 80. Another 10 cardinals will turn 80 next year, followed by another 13 in 2012. Thus it is likely that a new flock of cardinals will be appointed while the U.S. is in the midst of another election.

Spirituality: Carl Jung

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J. - On Mysticism

You know, all mystics - Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion - are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.

What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.

We're crazy, We're living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything.

Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J. - On Service

"How shall I help the world?"
"By understanding it," said the Master.

"And how shall I understand it?"
"By turning away from it."

"How then shall I serve humanity?"
"By understanding yourself."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prayer: Isaac Jogues, S.J.

I do not know what it is to enter Paradise, but this I know, it would be difficult to experience in this world a joy more excessive and overflowing than I felt when I set my foot in New France and celebrated my first Mass here at Quebec on the Feast of the Visitation (July 2nd). I assure you it was indeed a day of the visitation of the goodness of God and Our Lady. I felt as though it were a Christmas Day for me and I was able to be born again to a new life, and a life in God.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Australian Students Visit Rome

Up to 8,000 Australians are expected to converge on Rome for the canonisation of the country’s first saint on 17 October. Among them will be a number of students from Jesuit schools.

The St Ignatius College Riverview community in Sydney has a group of 38 pilgrims heading to Rome. The group includes ten students – Year 11 students Callum Ryan, Adrian Kenny and Zachary Prentice, Year 10 students Lachlan Grounds, Jack McGrath, Brian Naylon and Robert Waldron, Year 9 Student Samuel Clegg-Heath, Year 7 student Seamus McKillop (a distant relation of Mary MacKillop) and Year 6 student Hughie Flannery. Fr Joe Dooley SJ will be travelling with the group as their chaplain.

Riverview teacher Mr Bernie Winters, who will be leading the group, said the students are all looking forward to being in Rome for the canonisation.

‘There’s a whole buzz at the school actually. Everyone’s wishing us well’, he said.

He said the excitement for the journey began to build when the school was visited by the recipient of Mary MacKillop’s second miracle.

‘On 9 August, Kathleen Evans spoke at our MacKillop Mass and Dinner and shared her story with us’, he said. ‘We hope to catch up with her in Rome as well.’

The Riverview students will fly out on 14 October, and will spend a week in Rome. The pilgrimage, coordinated by Harvest Pilgrimages, will include all of the major canonisation events and visits to prominent Jesuit locations in Rome.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Catholic Education Office is helping 67 students from schools across the state travel to Rome. Joseph Favrin, the principal of Loyola College Watsonia, is on the planning committee for the event and is co-leading the group of students and staff heading to Rome for the ceremony.

Loyola College Year 11 student Victoria Eley has been chosen to accompany Mr Favrin. Also travelling to Rome will be Xavier College Year 10 student David O’Keefe, and St Ignatius College Geelong students Veronica Johnston and Gabrielle Exton.

The Melbourne student pilgrims attended a Mass of Commissioning at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 6 October, and will be flying out to Rome on 14 October.

Prayer: Rupert Mayer, S.J.

Anyone who truly and conscientiously searches for God will surely find him. It sometimes happens that God will visit a faithful servant here on earth with his tangible grace as a reward and sign that he is well pleased with him. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the heart of this happy man is flooded by a stream of rapturous ecstasy. For a few moments the soul feels as if drowned in a sea of indescribable euphoria. That is a small example of what awaits man’s soul in the Kingdom of the Eternal Light.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Mary MacKillop’s deep union with God" by Australian Provincial Steve Curtain, S.J.

As we celebrate the canonisation of Mary MacKillop this weekend, it is also a good time to reflect on how we can continue her mission of education and service to those in need, particularly our youth. Mary MacKillop understood that young people need special care in order to grow into their full potential.

In this edition of Province Express, Julie Edwards from Jesuit Social Services asks us to look at how our society treats young offenders. She points out that there is strong evidence that young people in detention have had shocking starts to their lives. ‘Many young people who have committed crimes are themselves the victims of abuse and neglect’, she says.

I feel sure that Mary MacKillop would say a resounding ‘Amen’ to Julie’s call for a stronger investment in early childhood care, education and training. As Josephite Sr Anne Derwin says, Mary MacKillop was ‘totally committed to God’s mission of bringing to the poor the message of their human dignity and of Christ’s saving love’.

Mary’s deep interior union with God is the key to her greatness. She believed that God knew her intimately and loved her. She responded by giving all her love and her whole life to God. She felt sustained by God’s love, and the courage and strength she drew from God helped her to pursue Christ’s mission of bringing hope to the marginalised, particularly the young.

Our Province is committed to helping young people experience that interior union with God through the MAGiS program. The MAGiS 2010 National Retreat in Sevenhill will offer young people from around Australia an opportunity to deepen their love of God, and to find in God’s love a source of courage and strength to do great things for God and for God’s poor.

It was ultimately Mary’s intimate union with God that gave her courage when she encountered Church leaders who were not the apostles of God’s love that they were called to be. Mary believed that God would vindicate her and redeem her life. Like so many saints throughout history, Mary MacKillop was an ordinary person who responded to God’s grace in her life and she has been vindicated. She believed that God is redeeming our world and redeeming each of us.

Fr Paul Gardiner SJ says what God has done in the life of Mary is what God can do in the lives of any of us. Mary is now being proclaimed to all the world as a woman of heroic goodness and holiness. We pray that she will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

Fr Steve Curtin SJ, Provincial

Additional note that I received from the Australian Jesuit Paul Fyfe:

There's a lovely setting of this by the Jesuit composer, Christopher Willcock. The sheet music for his SATB version can be found at:

http://www.marymackillop.org.au/resources/index.cfm?loadref=118


He has also set "Love's last song" by Rowe.


Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 17, 2010

The lesson of the parable of the justice-seeking widow who confronts the unjust judge is to encourage us to persevere in prayer. Jesus tells us that if the dishonest judge will provide for this lowly woman's needs, even if done reluctantly, then surely God will listen to our prayers and provide for our rights. God wants to do this for his chosen ones. So we have no fear. We are to bring our most hidden and persistent concerns to the Lord. We will take care of us if we let him.

We have all dealt with people who deal unjustly with authority. We seethe at the dismissive actions of these people and wonder how they could have been placed in a position of responsibility in the first place. We conjecture about why no one removes them from their post. This widow on the fragile fringe of society determines that goodness can come from this man. Somehow we might come around to using his authority well. She has no other choice if she is going to survive. She chooses to persistently petition him. Out of fear for bodily harm, he relents and gives her justice.

The courage of this woman who does not give up is laudable. She discovers her voice and uses it well. She is unafraid of the consequences of her actions because she stands of the side of justice and rightness knowing that the arc of compassion bends towards justice. In the process, she expresses her emotions and speaks about her needs and we know that no one can ever turn a deaf ear to the real, gut-wrenching emotions of another. To do so would be inhuman.

We are to learn from this woman who prays for her own needs. For some reason, we become very rational when we pray. We get into our heads and do not allow our emotions to become fully engaged. It is such a curiosity. We think we know how God wants us to present ourselves rather than just presenting ourselves truly as we are at the very moment of prayer. We hide most of our feelings from God thinking that this is the most prudent approach to prayer. Of course, we don't want to be selfish.

Prayer is simply presenting who we are (mind, memory, will, and emotions) at the present moment to God and letting God respond. Why do we find it so difficult to pray for ourselves when praying for others is much easier? Do we think we ought not pray for ourselves? The boldness of this persistent woman provides a great model for us. She pours out her heart and feelings continuously to a man who dislikes her. She is unafraid of his esteem for her. She could care less. All she wants is deserved justice. Jesus reminds us that God, who both likes and loves us, wants to hear our pleas because God wants to satisfy our most basic desires. Let's be bold this week and really let go in front of this God who is sure to give us so much more compassion and consolation than we ever thought we could expect.

Quote for the Week

Prayer: Victor Hugo

Have courage for the great sorrows of life, and patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Timothy, Paul gives an account of his colleague's desertions. He stands alone with only the Lord as his support, and his commitment to mission does not waver. Paul tells the Ephesians they are not alone. Christ comes to bring unity and peace through his atoning work. He relates his own story of grace claiming that of all people, he was not an expected choice to be a faithful witness to Christ. Paul prays for the believer's wisdom to know the depth and extent of Christ's love so all may be satisfied with the fullness of God. Christ's disciples are to know they are brothers and sisters with one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Therefore, all are to live with humility, gentleness, patience, loving regard, and each is to seek for unity in Christ. One's growth in grace has a unique aspect and a common one. We help each other grow in Christ.

Gospel: Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs with guarded instructions of conduct to prepare the way for his eventual visit. He tells them an aspect of their discipleship is to be ready for his visit. His visit will split families and friends apart because they will be asked to declare their belief or denial of Christ. This is Christ's desire: to know that his love for people is blazing in their hearts. Read the signs of the times and be vigilant. Jesus urges the people to repent and be attentive to the almost-hidden workings of God.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Luke, evangelist, is known to be a physician and a friend of Paul. He was a well-educated Gentile who was familiar with the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament.) He authored a Gospel portrait of Jesus that included the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was able to borrow from Mark, Matthew, and the Q source as he nuanced many details with literary flourish.

Tuesday: The North American Jesuit Martyrs included six Jesuit priests and two laymen, all from France, who were killed in the U.S. and Canada between 1642 and 1649. Their ministry to the warring Huron and Mohawk tribes was dangerous. The Native Americans became suspicious of the religion of the missionaries and brutally killed them. Isaac Jogues, John de le Lande, Jean de Brebeuf, Rene Goupil, Antoine, Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, and Noel Chabanel are the martyrs.

Wednesday: Paul of the Cross, priest, founded a religious order in 1721 dedicated to the Passion of the Lord. They became known as the Passionists. He had several visions and devoted his life to prayer and austerity.

Saturday: John of Capistrano, priest, had a vision of Francis of Assisi when he was imprisoned during an Italian civil war at which time he was the governor of Perugia. He entered the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1415 after ending his marriage. He preached missions throughout Europe including a mission to Hungary to preach a crusade against the Turks. After the Christian victory at the Battle of Belgrade in 1456, John died.

This Week in Jesuit History

• October 17, 1578: St Robert Bellarmine entered the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome at the age of 16.
• October 18, 1553: A theological course was opened in our college in Lisbon; 400 students were at once enrolled.
• October 19, 1588: At Munster, in Westphalia, the Society opens a college, in spite of an outcry raised locally by some of the Protestants.
• October 20, 1763: In a pastoral letter read in all his churches, the Archbishop of Paris expressed his bitter regret at the suppression of the Society in France. He described it as a veritable calamity for his country.
• October 21, 1568: Fr. Robert Parsons was elected Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He resigned his Fellowship in 1574.
• October 22, 1870: In France, Garibaldi and his men drove the Jesuits from the Colleges of Dole and Mont Roland.
• October 23, 1767: The Jesuits who had been kept prisoners in their college in Santiago, Chile, for almost two months were led forth to exile. In all, 360 Jesuits of the Chile Province were shipped to Europe as exiles.

North American Martyrs

The northeast part of the U.S. has great affinity for the North American Martyrs as these Jesuit priests and lay colleagues were killed in the once-wilderness areas of New York and Canada. Early Jesuit missionaries from France worked in New England and several churches and chapels are named after their heroic exploits. Not only did they bring the Catholic faith to the Native Americans, they were helpful in describing new species of plants, fauna, animals, birds and other wildlife for their European cohorts.

Rescue of the Chilean Miners

Thanks be to God for the safe return of the Chilean miners to their families. The daring rescue was fast and efficiently organized. The miners will be screened for physical and mental health issues before they return home to their families. Chile can be proud of the heroic efforts of those who worked for their escape from earth's captivity.

Canonization of Mary MacKillop, Australia's First Saint

Mary MacKillop, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Josephites), will be canonized on Sunday, October 17th in Rome. Her memorial in the Roman calendar will be August 8th, the date of her death in 1909. She will be called Mary of the Cross.

Mary was born in Melbourne, Australia and began her work Penola, a neighboring town. She ran schools and provided care for the poor immigrants and citizens of southern Australia. Her brother, a Jesuit, worked in the Adelaide region. Mary's legacy includes a variety of works across Australia and New Zealand. She revealed to many people the hospitable heart of God.

Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph work in Australia, New Zealand, East Timor, Ireland, Peru, and Brazil. They continue Mary's legacy and have great pride in the canonization of their founder.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blogger's Question: He Rose Again?

I recently had a question asked of me by a blog follower. Here is her text:

When I was little, I learned in 2nd grade in the Apostle's Creed, …"He arose from the dead and He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God The Father Almighty. From thence He shall come… Somewhere along the line I noticed that the words have become, "He arose again from the dead…." Our Lord only arose once. Is there a theological explanation of this "again" wording in the Apostle's Creed?

I investigated the question and found the following:

In the Apostles' Creed, the following texts exist:

Apostles' (Rufinus): The third day He rose again from the dead,

Apostles' (T-version, traditional): He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

These texts exist in earlier versions of the Apostles' Creed as quoted by Tertullian:

De Virg. Vel., 1: on the third day brought to life from the dead,

Against Praxeas 2: brought back to life,

De Praecept., 13 and 26: He rose the third day,

Nowhere does the word "again" appear.

The Nicene Creed has the following: was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the scriptures.

Answer:

The definition from New Advent is: The Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life."

It means a resumption of life; implicitly it is resurrection "again to life" or "to life again." It is not a repetition of a resurrection, but resurrection is the resumption of life.

A dictionary entry for the word "again" reads "a return to a previous position or condition." In this case, the resurrection implies a return to a previous condition. We believe Jesus was not resuscitated, so it is more than a return to a previous condition.

Mary MacKillop’s postulator: Fr Paul Gardiner SJ

After dedicating more than 25 years of his life to her cause, Australian Jesuit Father Paul Gardiner says Mary MacKillop's canonisation is a celebration of God in our country, as well as blessing the life of MacKillop.

‘It's proof to all people that God can do it here', he says. ‘The achievement of Mary MacKillop in her life was great and wonderful. But the great achievement is God's achievement in a human soul like Mary's.'

Fr Gardiner was appointed as the postulator for MacKillop's cause in 1983. He spent six years researching and digesting the documents prepared about her life, before putting together the case for her canonisation. The case was later published as a book, Mary MacKillop: An extraordinary Australian.

He says that while MacKillop did a great deal in setting up schools and working for those in need, what impressed him most in getting to know her story was her deep spiritual life and union with God.

‘She considered herself a contemplative', he says.

The other thing that stood out about MacKillop was her ability to withstand the negative events in her life. When she stood up to the bishops, Fr Gardiner says MacKillop wasn't - as some might suggest - a rebel against authority, or even a feminist. Her actions were those of someone with a deep respect for the authority of the Church, and were made according to the law and the vows she had taken.

‘There is no one in Australia's history you could point to, I think, who had more respect for law and authority than Mary MacKillop', says Fr Gardiner. ‘To try to twist her into some sort of ideology is an abuse.'

Even when submitting to the excommunication, MacKillop acted with respect for the authorities.

‘She was never excommunicated, it was all invalid, but she acted out of respect to the bishop as though she were. She said, "God will bring good out of evil"', says Fr Gardiner.

‘The way she handled that, going through it, is a convincing argument to look a bit further at what was driving this woman. How did she do this, was it a natural bent to her soul, or was there something else there? And the something else of course was her close union with God.'

Retiring as postulator in 2008, Fr Gardiner is currently based at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Penola, South Australia. He has travelled to Rome for the canonisation on 17 October, and will concelebrate the canonisation Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

He says he is looking forward to seeing the thousands gathered in the square outside St Peter's Basilica as the banner of MacKillop is unfurled.

‘What I'm looking forward to is the emotional reaction to seeing it all, remembering Mary MacKillop as the young Australian girl who was visiting Rome on her own, trying to get some sort of approval from the Holy See for her order and frequently visiting St Peter's.

‘Socially speaking, she was a nobody. Yet here she will be, being proclaimed by the world.'

By Michael McVeigh (first published 3 March 2010)

Prayer: Dean Brackley, S.J.

To be perfectly honest, it would be hard for me to get through the day without reflecting on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius has two key meditations in the Exercises and one of them is the two standards. Ignatius talks about life as a struggle between good and evil. He says, “Let’s not be naïve, we can’t be good unless we really struggle against evil.” It’s not just like buying apples rather than oranges. He says, “Know that there is a power of evil out there, there’s a strategy of evil and that strategy is basically a strategy of greed and lust for power. Jesus has another strategy, and that strategy is a strategy of poverty and solidarity. It’s a strategy of downward mobility.” Not that everybody has to live in misery, by any means, but Ignatius argues that typically the enemy will try to undo us by getting us to have too many things and to think of ourselves too highly. The best strategy to avoid the pitfalls is one of humility and humble service and solidarity with the poor. I find that Ignatius is right.

His other great meditation is the meditation on the reign of God, the idea that God really is at work in the world and has a project, and the project is that we all live more humanly and in community. That we enjoy the fullness of life. It seems to me that is walking in solidarity, this taking one’s place among the people is where one gets a glimpse of that reign of God, that hope, that project of God. It’s where we see God working in the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Celebrating Australia's First Saint

Mary MacKillop will become Australia’s first saint next Sunday, an event that has been more than a hundred years in the making.

The journey to her canonisation began when Cardinal Moran visited Mary on her deathbed and declared, ‘I consider myself today to have assisted at the deathbed of a saint’. On Sunday, it will finish in the same square in Rome that Mary walked alone as a young Josephite seeking papal approval for her order.

Australian Josephite Congregational Leader Sr Anne Derwin says Mary went to Rome alone, without return fare, and travelling as a widow due to the political unrest in Italy.

‘By the time she set out on that journey, Mary was totally committed to God’s mission of bringing to the poor the message of their human dignity and of Christ’s saving love’, she says. ‘It was for the sake of that Mission in the Australian context that she left our shores.’

On Sunday, thousands of Australians will gather in St Peter’s Square to see Mary’s banner hanging from the front of the basilica along with six other newly-canonised saints. Her former postulator, Father Paul Gardiner SJ, says the sight of the banner and the cheering crowds will bring Mary’s story full circle.

What I’m looking forward to is the emotional reaction to seeing it all, remembering Mary MacKillop as the young Australian girl visiting Rome on her own’, he says. ‘Socially speaking, she was a nobody. Yet here she will be, being proclaimed by the world.’

Patronage

There are already many suggestions as to what Australia’s first saint will be patron of. The former editor of Australian Catholics, Michael McGirr, had a number of suggestions in an article in The Age, including the patron of nappies (because of her many siblings), horses (her travels), difficult bosses (her difficulties with bishops) and the patron saint of reality.

‘Mary was never afraid of a complex world. She developed a simple faith to help her embrace it. She said, “Do all you can with the means at your disposal and leave all the rest to God”’, says McGirr.

Others are calling for Mary MacKillop to be the patron saint of abuse victims, in the light of the fact that the uncovering of an abusive priest by a Josephite sister was the beginning of the ill feeling towards the Josephites that indirectly lead to the excommunication of Mary MacKillop.

A Compass documentary highlighted how a Josephite sister had uncovered abuse by a Fr Keating and reported it to the bishop. The story is also told in Fr Paul Gardiner’s book, An Extraordinary Australian, although Mary was not present at the time, and it was one of a number of factors that led to the priests in the diocese, and in particular Fr Horan, turning against the Josephites.

US Jesuit James Martin said victims of abuse now have someone to pray to in their struggles for justice and reconciliation.

‘Now victims of sex abuse and their families, and all who desire reconciliation and healing in the Church, can pray to Mary MacKillop, who understands them perhaps better than any other saint’, said Fr Martin.

Canonisation

More than 8,000 Australians are travelling to Rome to attend the canonisation ceremonies. In addition, thousands of Australians will take part in diocesan events across the country, including celebrations in Jesuit parishes.

Sr Anne Derwin says the event will be a celebration of all Australian women and men who live saintly lives of peace, justice and forgiveness.

‘Let us hope that the canonisation of Mary MacKillop inspires each of us anew to roll up our sleeves for the sake of God’s mission, which saw Mary MacKillop seeking the poorest and most vulnerable among human beings and sharing with them the God of compassionate and provident love.’

From the Jesuits of Australia, Province Express



Poem: If I could tell the love of God – In honor of Mother Mary MacKillop

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of one my heart enjoys,
Of one who whispers, warm and calm,
Of one whose tender touch persists.

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of beauty barely seen,
Of shadow gums and string bark,
Of tracks and water hard to find.

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of women seen as fools,
Because, in Joseph’s hidden way,
They crossed an empty land with trust.

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of women working hard,
Receiving bits of broken bread,
And poor enough to serve the poor.

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of Christ who chose the Cross.
His wisdom brings the might down.
His strength uplifts the stable’s child.

If I could tell the love of God
I’d sing of Christ who chose the Cross.
His justice mends a broken world,
His mercy turns the grave around.

Noel Rowe, from retreat notes written by Mary MacKillop

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A New Saint: Mary MacKillop's Place in Australia

Twice a year the Australian Bishops gather at MacKillop Place in North Sydney for their regular Conferences. In the chapel of what became the Mother House and Novitiate of the Sisters of Saint Joseph is the grave of Mother Mary. Strange as it might sound, it is a living tomb. At any time of the day there are people praying there, in ones and twos and whole groups. There are lay people, religious, priests and even bishops. There are people of all colours and nationalities. There is a powerful atmosphere of prayer and faith. It is indeed one of Australia’s holiest places.

Others have written about the obstacles Mary MacKillop had to encounter. There was her very dysfunctional family, an absentee father and a dependent mother, and siblings whose upkeep demanded that Mary take on the position of governess at an early age. In addition, Mary was of Scottish not Irish background in a Church of the time in Australia that could rarely see beyond Ireland as the only model of Church action. She was colonial born and not formally educated, and yet running schools and training Sisters, to the disdain of some of the overseas clergy. She was also a woman, in an age of male-only initiative, and a religious sister, in an age when nuns were meant to be semi-enclosed in grand convents leading ordered lives within protecting walls – certainly not in the outback in cottages and lean-to’s, miles and miles away from the presence of a priest. And nuns were meant to agree demurely with the clergy.

What did Mary have going for her? She had a quite brilliant mind and a faith that could move mountains, even bishops and a Pope. A heart and soul filled with the love of God was hers. She saw the inner truth of things, could see the beauty of the Church beneath the deficiencies of its exterior and the foibles of a lot of its clergy. She had youth and energy and sickness; she had daring and compassion; she had a constant daring and a desire to spread goodness and faith throughout our land. These ingredients made the Josephites a power house of energy and creativity, tempered at times by frailty like any human organisation, just as sickness tempered Mary.

Within 16 months of arriving in Adelaide in 1867, there were more than fifty Josephite Sisters. When Mary was excommunicated in 1871 she had already had to learn to face up to Church superiors, and she was responsible for the care and conduct of 110 sisters conducting 47 works in South Australia. The average age of this new order of nuns was just under 25. When calamity struck them and almost 50 sisters were dismissed and she was excommunicated, Mary was only 29 years old.

What makes her so strong in appeal for all Australians of all and no faiths was her integrity and commitment to the lowly, the isolated, those in adverse circumstances. She founded the first women’s shelters, aged care homes and houses for girls struggling to leave the dark life of the streets. She established schools which taught both youngsters and illiterate adults in country towns, giving adult men and women wanting to learn how to read and write the skills that would free them from being hooked into being near serfs.

The Port Pirie diocese has had more than forty Josephite works commenced here, and the Sisters are still here in schools and parishes and social work and care for the aged. Wallaroo is the oldest Josephite school in existence in Australia, and is to be named St Mary MacKillop School in her honour. Caritas College in Port Augusta, founded in 1872, has Sr Catherine Mead RSJ as its Principal, and that makes it the school with the longest record of unbroken Josephite leadership in Australia.

When an instrument is being made it has to be forged, to make it strong. Our diocese became the forge for the Josephite charism reaching out across distances in communities of two or three Sisters to serve the neglected and isolated, those poor in the world’s gifts. Our diocese was a place through the late 1860s and the 1870s in which Mary saw her dream forged in all the scattered little schools embracing the poor and lowly of this world, with her Sisters lifting up those being pressed down by isolation and scant means in a totally Australian environment.

Mary MacKillop travelled our roads, wrote letters from our little towns, got hot and dusty and dirty in our summers. Holiness is not far away. We drive the same roads, live in the same towns, stay where she stayed. The love of God has been seen to fill our land. She was here in her time, and now we are here to live that same love. The greatness of heart of dedicated young women in brown brought hope and strength to where it was very needed.

Thank you, Lord, for placing such a saint in our midst. We consider our blessings, looking for the flowers in the garden of our diocese, not the weeds. May we say in our hearts what Mary MacKillop wrote, ‘Let us rejoice and thank God for giving us such solid proofs of His love’. May our Church of Australia continue to bring forth disciples of Jesus of such commitment and closeness to Him as Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

By Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Port Pirie Diocese.

Prayer: Therese of Lisieux

In heaven I shall live amid joy since all trial will be gone forever, but here below I must live by love.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pilgrimage Opportunity

A National Holiday: Columbus Day

October 12th is the traditional day for celebrating Columbus Day, though the holiday always falls on the second Monday of October. Columbus is criticized for having the prototypical attitude of the European sailing captains and merchants who explored and exploited the Atlantic in the 15th century. He was a man of unusual ambition. He also takes the brunt of the criticism lodged against the European colonizers for the harsh treatment of the native populations of the Americas.

Four hundred years after Columbus' first voyage, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed a national holiday to honor the landing in San Salvador. Harrison wanted to set aside a day that recognized both Native Americans and the many immigrants, including Italians, who were flocking to the U.S. in record numbers. This holiday would be the first one that was not a religious holiday or one that honored the Founding Fathers. It was to be a day that celebrated the ordinary people who were part of American history. It was planned to be a tribute to democracy as well: universal public schooling was recently instituted - a hallmark decision for democracy because it was designed to include everyone, not just the wealthy governing elite.

The first parade was held in New York City and its marchers were primarily 12,000 school children from each constituency. Public high school students led the way, followed by Catholics, then other private and national schools. The Native Americans were included in the procession. The parade was an attempt to universally unite every group who called themselves Americans.

Nothing ever happens in a vacuum. Two years before the national holiday was declared, U.S. troops massacred 200 Lakota Sioux people at Wounded Knee because of an unfortunate misunderstanding. The U.S. government acknowledge the tragedy of the soldiers actions. In a separate incident ten weeks later, eleven Italian citizens were lynched in prison. The Italians were put to death because of a public fears. Italians were almost as unpopular as the Native Americans. President Harrison was saddened by the events. It is conceivable that Harrison wanted to instill a spirit within the American people who could move beyond their own prejudice and to recognize the great contributions of its many diverse peoples.

The idea behind the holiday is much deeper than most Americans realize. We impose today's attitudes upon events that happened much earlier and that is intellectually dishonest. The goals of Harrison are certainly admirable. Columbus' landing was a momentous step in a world that would see monumental changes within a short period of time. Such a discovery rarely has happened in human history and for that alone, it is a holiday worth remembering.

Prayer: Ephrem of Syria

Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws the Holy Spirit into the soul and raises us to heaven.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Prayer: John “Waterbury” Kelley, S.J.

A while ago I was praying in the Cenacle with the disciples, and in the prayer I was present at the washing of the feet. Well, Jesus came to me and knelt before me. To me it was a revelation, something even more important than the cross. We say the crucifixion is the ultimate expression of God’s love. Yet I was more affected by God’s, well, groveling at my feet…. We speak so glibly, facilely, about how much God loves us. But then God gives us the experience in prayer. He makes himself our slave, kneels at our feet, to win our love. I know that if I were there, he would have done that. The gift of prayer is the gift of emotional insight into what God means for us in his Son.

And that scene says everything for me. “You’ve seen what I did, and you appreciated it,” Jesus says in St. John. “Now do the same for others.” It must have meant so much to John. In one of his letters he even says that if you say you love God but don’t love your neighbor, then you are a liar.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prayer: Bernardine of Siena

Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 10, 2010

Grace frees us. We have a difficult time knowing how to respond to Christ's saving grace when we encounter it. In 2nd Kings, we hear the story of Naaman, a commander of the Aramean army, who seeks out the prophet Elisha to heal his leprosy at the urging of his wife's servant girl who was an Israelite. He is told to wash seven times in the Jordan River. A proud man, he initially balks and decides to return home until his counsel urges him to bathe in the river. When he is cured, he returns humbly and thanks Elisha with offers of lavish gifts. In the Gospel, ten lepers seek Jesus. While they are still afflicted, he sends them to the priests who will readmit them into the community. On their journey, their leprosy is healed and one of the ten, a foreigner with different religious viewpoints from the Jesus, returns to thank him and to praise his God. Jesus tells the man his faith has saved him.

As we examine the differing responses of the two men, we see that both are foreigners to Israel, they seek out mighty prophets, and they loudly praise the God of Israel because they are transformed - both outwardly and inwardly. Because of his position, Naaman has great resources to offer Elisha in gratitude. Elisha repeatedly refuses. After protesting Elisha's firm rejection of a gift, Naaman asks to take two mule-loads of dirt back to his native country as a way of staying in touch with the merciful God who took pity on him. The foreigner in the Gospel likewise wants to offer something meaningful to Jesus in response to the healing. We know that he is a changed man interiorly because he is the only one who returns to Jesus. He is sent home as an ambassador of God's redeeming grace that heals and saves the man at the same time.

How do we respond to Christ when we notice a miracle or receive the saving grace he extends to us? If we are attuned to God's actions, we can witness this offer of grace each day. When we encounter such goodness, we want to affirm it as Naaman and the nameless leper did. Many of us may feel impelled to offer gifts to God or to a priest or a good Samaritan. We like to show our gratitude in meaningful ways. We are stuck with not knowing how to appropriately offer our gratitude those who do not need or want gifts because they know that grace is freely given without any thought of reward. We feel we lack resources when we offer something back to Christ because we think there is little that we can concretely offer him. From our readings, it seems that Christ likes us to praise God whose grace causes us to reform our lives. We decide to live differently on account of the good we have received. Let's ask Christ if he wants a gift from us and if so, what he would like. He is very good at responding, but don't be surprised if he just wants to share in your delight. It is always more enjoyable to praise God with others. So tell your story to him, even if he already knows it, and let him share his joy in hearing your personal account. This alone is quite a gift.

Quote for the Week

A Prayer from a Third Century Manuscript:

Of the light of dawn let none be silent nor let the bright stars be wanting in praise: let all the foundations of the rivers lift up their songs to the Father, Son, and Spirit.

So let all powers on earth cry aloud: Amen, Amen. Might and honor, glory and praise to God, only giver of all that is good. Amen.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Galatians, Paul uses an allegory to tell the new believers that they are descendants of people made free by God's promise. They are not bound by the law any longer, but they have to resist the draw of the law that submits them to slavery. Only faith working through love will help them live by the Spirit. They will know they are enjoying the fruits of the Spirit when they see: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Ephesians, Paul outlines God's noble vision for the world. All believers are destined in accord with God's purpose. Paul prays for the people of Ephesus while extolling Christ as the one who is above all.

Gospel: Jesus chastises the people because they seek a sign that proves the nature and identity of Jesus. He calls to mind Jonah who was a sign to the Ninevites. The people repented at his teachings; Jesus tells them something greater than Johan is in their midst. Visiting a Pharisee for dinner, Jesus is scolded for not observing the ritual cleansing before a meal. Jesus scolds the Pharisees for their hypocrisy; he reprimands the insulted scholars for making life more difficult for the people to fulfill their religious obligations. Naturally, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him. They decided to catch him at something he might say. Jesus ups the ante by telling crowds of people to beware of the Pharisees. He urges to people to hold onto his words and to not fear their power. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Anyone who acknowledges Jesus before others will be acknowledged before the angels and God. The Spirit will teach a person how to speak in times of adversity.

Saints of the Week

Thursday: Callistus I, pope and martyr, was originally a slave of a Christian owner who put him in charge of a bank that failed. After being released from slavery and from imprisonment, he became a deacon. He counseled Pope Zephyrinus. He was elected Pope in 217 and brought about many reforms that helped common people in their daily plight.

Friday: Teresa of Jesus, doctor, from Avila was a Carmelite sister who brought about reforms in the lax life of the convent. She began a strict rule after consultation with John of the Cross. She founded the reformed Discalced Order of nuns and friars. She is known as a mystic and wrote the books "The Interior Castle" and "The Way of Perfection."

Saturday: Hedwig, religious, at age 12 married Henry, a prince who would become king of Silesia. As a monarch, they built a Cistercian monastery for women. They soon built many other religious houses and hospitals. She chose to live in austere poverty to be in solidarity with the poor.

Margaret Mary Alocoque entered the Visitation Order at Paray-le-Monial in 1671. She received visions of Christ's love and told her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude la Colombiere, who asked her to write about her experiences. They developed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her community resisted her promotion of the devotion at first, but later came to see the power of the prayers.

This Week in Jesuit History

• October 10, 1806: The first novitiate of the Maryland Mission opened as ten novices began their Long Retreat under the direction of Fr. Francis Neale (himself a novice who had entered the Jesuits that day.)
• October 11, 1688: King Louis XIV forbade all correspondence and interchange between the French Jesuits and Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez, the Spanish General Superior of the Society.
• October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.
• October 13, 1537: At Venice the Papal Nuncio published his written verdict declaring that Ignatius Loyola was innocent of all charges which had been leveled against him by his detractors.
• October 14, 1774: A French Jesuit in China wrote an epitaph to the Jesuit mission in China after the suppression of the Society. It concludes: "Go, traveler, continue on your way. Felicitate the dead; weep for the living; pray for all. Wonder, and be silent."
• October 15, 1582: St Teresa of Avila died on this day -- the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. She always wished to have a Jesuit as a confessor.
• October 16, 1873: About two weeks after Victor Emmanuel's visit to Berlin, where he had long conferences with Bismark, rumors reached the Society in Rome that all of their houses in Rome were threatened.

Columbus Day
Five hundred and eighteen years ago, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new trade route to India. Columbus, an explorer from Genoa, Italy, unexpectedly changed the map of the world and opened a new frontier to European explorers.

Columbus landed in the Caribbean and was convinced of the vast potential this new world offered to the people of Europe. His expeditions foreshadowed the journey across the seas for millions of courageous immigrants who sought fame, fortune, or a new life of opportunity free from oppression and persecution.

As they settled, they joined indigenous communities with thriving cultures - with varying degrees of success. While we celebrate the achievement of Columbus, we reflect upon the many valuable contribution of indigenous communities to the Americas. We remember the tremendous suffering they also faced by the colonizers. We recognize the challenging work that remains in front of us as we try to build a unified world that respects all peoples. We pray that we can come together to build a new world that has many new frontiers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Spirituality: God’s Desire to Exalt the Soul by John of the Cross

In anything pleases him, it is the exaltation of the soul. Since there is no way by which he can exalt her more than by making her equal to himself, he is pleased only with her love. For the property of love it to make the lover equal to the object loved. Since the soul in this state possesses perfect love, she is called the bride of the Son of God, which signifies equality with him. In this equality of friendship the possessions of both are held in common, as the Bridegroom himself said to his disciples: I have now called you my friends, because of all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you… As a result they are truly gods by participation, equals and companions of God.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Prayer: Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer…. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions you should speak to God only with your heart.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prayer: A Prayer When I Feel Hated

Loving God, you made me who I am.
I praise you and I love you,
for I am wonderfully made, in your own image.

But when people make fun of me,
I feel hurt and embarrassed and even ashamed.
So please God, help me remember my own goodness,
which lies in you.
Help me remember my dignity,
which you gave me when I was conceived.
Help me remember that I can live a life of love,
because you created my heart.

Be with me, loving God, when people hate me,
and help me to respond how you would want me to:
with a love that respects others, but also respects me.
Help me find friends who love me for who I am.
Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.

And God, help me remember that Jesus loves me.
For he was seen as an outcast, too.
He was misunderstood, too.
He was beaten and spat upon.
Jesus understands me,
and loves me with a special love,
because of the way you made me.

And when I am feeling lonely,
help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend.
Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them.
Jesus encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity,
even when others were blind to seeing that dignity.
Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him.
And he loves me, too.

One more thing, God:
Help me remember
that nothing is impossible with you,
that you have a way of making things better,
and that you can find a way of love for me,
even if I can’t see it right now.

Help me remember all these things
in the heart you created, loving God.
Amen.

James Martin, SJ

Prayer: Pope Leo I, The Great

The ascension of Christ is our elevation. Hope for the body is also invited where the glory of the Head preceded us. Let us rejoice.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prayer: Teresa of Avila – on becoming a mirror of Christ

My soul seemed to me to be like a brightly polished mirror, without any part on the back or sides or top or bottom that wasn’t totally clear. In its center Christ our Lord was shown to me…. It seemed to me I saw him clearly in every part of my soul, as though in a mirror. And this mirror also… was completely engraved upon the Lord himself by means of a loving communication I wouldn’t know how to describe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spirituality: Metchthild of Magdeburg on the mutuality of God

God has so enfolded the soul into him/herself and so poured out the divine nature completely into it that the soul is rendered speechless. It says nothing except that God is in the closest communion with it and God is more than a Father.

God lays the soul in his glowing heart so that He, the great God, and she, the humble maid, embrace and are united as thoroughly as water is with wine.

As love grows and expands in the soul, it rises eagerly to God and overflows toward the Glory which bends towards it. Then Love melts through the soul into the senses, so that the body too might share in it, for Love is drawn into all things.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Prayer: Philip Neri

Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore, the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Feast of the Guardian Angels

I honor the triduum (three days) sets aside for the angels from the three Archangels on September 29th to the Guardian Angels on October 2nd. The feast of the Guardian Angels has always been significant to me because my oldest sister was born on this day in 1956. She was the first born child in the family and was born with profound mental retardation because the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck in utero and deprived her brain of needed oxygen. My parents received poor medical advice from my mother's doctor who told my mother that she was in false labor though she was hemorrhaging. Medical care today would prevent a situation like this from occurring.

Anyways, my sister graced my life and taught me much about pastoral ministry. Her life was extremely difficult, but she brought out great love from us and from those who were in contact with her. Because of her condition, I was left searching for answers to the age old questions: If God is loving and all-powerful, why does God allow the suffering of the innocent. My first religious experience was talking with God about the reasons for her suffering and for her incomplete life. Through the events of her life, I became much closer to God and Jesus Christ as I peppered them with so many other questions. I'm grateful for some of the answers I received.

Anyways, here is a poem that both consoled and perplexed me when I was a young boy. I admit that it is a bit hokey and it reads like a hallmark card, but it helped me grapple with my sister's situation in life at a time I needed to ask more questions to God. It gave me great comfort to know that God chose my parents to bring such a special child into the world, and I also realized that God would not act in this way. Sometimes, accidents are just accidents and God does not look for certain people to handle the suffering of the innocent. I did feel in my heart that my sister, Dawn Mari, had an angel to specially care for her in her earthly life. It is just a feeling of certainty that consoled me. It was providential that she was born on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Dawn Mari died eleven years ago on October 30th.


A meeting was held quite far from earth!

It's time again for another birth.
Said the angels to the Lord above,
This special child will need much love.

His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets down there.

He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away,
In many ways he won't adapt,
And he'll be known as handicapped.

So let's be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please Lord, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.

They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play,
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.

And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for their gift from heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild,
Is heaven's very special child.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 3, 2010

When the prophet Habakkuk exclaims "How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen," he sounds something like the disciples in the Gospel when they tell Jesus to increase their faith. Habakkuk is surveying the problems of his day and he realizes that divine intervention is needed to remedy many of these problems. On his own, the prophet is powerless to effect any lasting or significant change. The disciples confront their own powerlessness and they want the type of deep faith that Jesus possesses. The problems of their day are monumental. Their actions are inconsequential when pitted against the pervasive sin present in the social systems that reek with injustice and violence. They realize that only something much bigger that they can effect the needed change.

Though Habakkuk wants God's decisive intervention, he is told to write down the vision of God's lasting peace and justice on tablets so that others can read about it. Then he is to wait. He is to place his hope in the God who listens. The disciples are told that if they had faith as tiny as the mustard seed, they would be able to push even that which seems to be unmovable. Even a little faith is that powerful. Paul tells Timothy that God provides believers with the spirit of power, love, and self-control and that they are to stir this gift into flame because it will diminish any fear and cowardice. This kind of waiting is an active process in which one's persevering trust in God will provide amazing results. Habakkuk and the disciples are told that their persistence service to the Gospel will be the transformative agent needed to "move mountains." Like Habakkuk, we are to proclaim God's vision for others to behold; like the disciples, we are bring about knowledge of God's reign by tiny, seemingly inconsequential steps. Therefore, we have all the faith we need.

We too want a satisfying answer to the ways we can increase our trust in God's vision in light of the terrifyingly immense systemic injustice of our time. Like the disciples, we may question whether our faith is sufficient and we know that we may need to place more trust in God's power. It is not easy for us to respect God's vision for the world because we are often capable people who think we ought to do more than we are already doing. We think, "if I do something more, greater good will come about," or "I am not doing something right, therefore I must try harder and good things will happen." Why don't we try the solution Jesus told the disciples? This means that we are to proclaim God's reign and to conform our actions to it in a way that honors God's autonomy, but let's speak about it in realistic ways that express our faith, rather than with piously optimistic phrases that end discussions and fail to satisfy any arguments. Let us stir the gift of strength, love, and self-control into flames because as believers we deserve to testify to God's gospel through our actions without any fear or hesitation.

Quote for the Week

From Blessed John Henry Newman

O Lord, support us all the day long till the shades lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, in your mercy, may you grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last. Amen.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Paul's Letter to the Galatians, he chastises the believers for turning so quickly from the gospel that was handed onto them and perverting it to become a more acceptable one. Paul tells them the incredulous story of his own call thereby explaining the reasons he has become a slave of Christ. Because of Paul's call, the people glorified God for this miracle. He tells how he consulted with Cephas, James, and Barnabas and while in Jerusalem, he receives a revelation that he is chosen to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The leaders of the disciples ratified Paul and Barnabas's ministry. Paul appeals to them to honor the intervention of the Spirit who informs their faith. Those who have faith are the children on Abraham. Faith now trumps the Law of Moses. Faith frees us from bondage to the Law and we are exalted as God's adopted children.

Gospel: Jesus answers the legal scholars by telling them that the one who is in need in our neighbor and that our neighbors are to be treated with mercy. Jesus visits Mary and Martha and announces to Martha that Mary's version of hospitality is what is currently needed for him. He then teaches his disciples to pray by giving them the Jewish Lord's Prayer. He reveals the generosity of the Father who desires to give to anyone who asks, unlike the friend who is compelled by his neighbor to provide bread for a visitor late at night. When the authority of Jesus is questioned, he explains that since he is doing the Father's work, the good spirits are united because an evil spirit would be trying to tear down the work he is doing. Jesus affirms those who hear the word of God and respond to it. Blessed are those who hear and act upon it.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Francis of Assisi, religious, founded a group of men in 1210 who were to build up the church by preaching repentance. Within 10 years, the order grew to 5,000 men. Before his religious call, Francis served his state as a soldier and became a prisoner of war. His father renounced him when he decided to serve the church by repairing it. Francis became a lifelong deacon.

Wednesday: Bruno, priest, founded the Carthusian Order in 1084. He was ordained in 1055 and taught theology in Rheims, France and eventually became chancellor of the diocese, even though he felt called to renounce his riches and live an austere life. With six friends, he founded a hermitage in the Chartreuse Mountains.

Marie-Rose Durocher, from Quebec, wanted to enter a convent but illness kept her away. Instead, she helped her brother, a pastor, with his parish ministry and soon founded the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1843 to further religious education.

Thursday: Devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary began in the late 16th century to commemorate the victory of the Christian navy over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto near Corinth in 1571. At its time, it was the most significant naval battle fought since the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The Ottoman Empire's Muslim forces lost 200 ships and the morale of the Islamic world was lowered while Christian morale was significantly raised. Tradition holds that the Christian faithful prayed the Rosary asking Mary to intercede on behalf of the military.

Saturday: Denis, bishop, and companions, martyrs, were killed in a third century persecution in France. Denis, as a missionary, was preaching in Paris. He became the first bishop of Paris and a chapel was built on the site of his tomb. Ignatius and his original band of friends pronounced first vows at the Mont Martre (Mount of the Martyrs) outside of France on the Feast of the Assumption.

John Leonardi, priest, was born at the time of the Reformation in Lucca, Italy. After ordination, he taught catechism and worked with the sick, including the plague-stricken. He devised the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in 1579, which remained in use until the 19th century. It provided a summary of Christian beliefs. He also founded a religious congregation called the Clerks Regular of the Moth of God.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."
• Oct 4, 1820. In Rome, great troubles arose before and during the Twentieth General Congregation, caused by Fr. Petrucci's intrigues. He sought to wreck the Society and was deposed from his office as Vicar General, though supported by Cardinal della Genga (afterwards Leo XII).
• Oct 5, 1981. In a letter to Father General Arrupe, Pope John Paul II appointed Paolo Dezza as his personal delegate to govern the Society of Jesus, with Fr. Pittau as coadjutor.
• Oct 6, 1773. In London, Dr James Talbot, the Vicar Apostolic, promulgated the Brief of Suppression and sent copies to Maryland and Pennsylvania.
• Oct 7, 1819. The death of Charles Emmanuel IV. He had been King of Sardinia and Piedmont. He abdicated in 1802 and entered the Jesuits as a brother in 1815. He is buried in San Andrea Quirinale in Rome.
• Oct 8, 1871. The Great Chicago Fire. Most of the city was destroyed, but it missed Holy Family, the Jesuit parish, as the fire turned north thanks to the prayers of Fr. Arnold Damen. The fire lasted three days; 250 were killed.
• Oct 9, 1627. Jansenius left Louvain for Salamanca to foment antipathy against the Jesuits and thus prevent Philip IV from giving the Society a large college in Madrid. The theological faculty at Salamanca were hostile to the Society.

Blessing of the Animals

Many parishes will hold a special service during the weekend to bless the family pets. It is chosen to be held at this time in honor of St. Francis who is known for revering creation and all living things. Below is a blessing that you may want to extend to your pets at home:

“Blessed are you, Lord God, creator of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet.(Please name your pet.) By the power of your love, enable it to live in good health and with good care. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

Prayers for a Peace Treaty between Israel and Palestine

Not much media attention has been given to the peace process that is underway in hopes of a permanent peace treaty between the nations of Israel and Palestine. The scant media attention may be done out of respect for the difficulties in discussing that which is needed for a delicate breakthrough. The efforts are extremely significant and the relationship is much too fragile. Failure to agree may lead to an outbreak of hostilities and an increase of Israeli construction on the West Bank Palestinian territories. Please pray this week that a much needed breakthrough can occur and that the world may have a peace that we all can celebrate.

Prayers for the Trapped Chilean Miners

Let us continue to pray for the Chilean miners who remain trapped underground. Though they are provided with food, water, and entertainment, they are not yet safe. Rescue efforts expect an early November release from their earth-bound captivity. Let us pray also for the family members who are in pain because they are separated from their loved ones.