Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The sun warms everything

The sun warms everything,
pure and gentle,
once again it reveals to the world
April's face,
the soul of man
is urged towards love
and joys are governed
by the boy-god.

All this rebirth
in spring's festivity
and spring's power
bids us to rejoice;
it shows us paths we know well,
and in your springtime
it is true and right
to keep what is yours.

Love me faithfully!
See how I am faithful:
with all my heart and with all my soul,
I am with you even when I am far away.
Whosoever loves this much
turns on the wheel.

Carmina Burana

Monday, May 30, 2011

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 18


The work of God in the diversity of human history is seen in the long process of enlightened spiritual growth – still incomplete – as expressed in religious, social, moral and cultural forms which bear the mark of the silent work of the Spirit.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The merry face of spring

The merry face of spring
turns to the world,
sharp winter
now flees, vanquished;
bedecked in various colors
Flora reigns,
the harmony of the woods
praises her in song. Ah!

Lying in Flora's lap
Phoebus once more
smiles, now covered
in many-colored flowers,
Zephyr breathes nectarspirans
scented breezes.
Let us rush to compete
for love's prize. Ah!

In harp-like tones sings
the sweet nightingale,
with many flowers
the joyous meadows are laughing,
a flock of birds rises up
through the pleasant forests,
the chorus of maidens
already promises a thousand joys. Ah!

Carmina Burana

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The woods are burgeoning

The noble woods are burgeoning
with flowers and leaves.
Where is the lover I knew? Ah!
He has ridden off!
Oh! Who will love me? Ah!

The woods are burgeoning all over,
I am pining for my lover.
The woods are turning green all over,
why is my lover away so long? Ah!
He has ridden off,
Oh woe, who will love me? Ah!

Carmina Burana

Friday, May 27, 2011

Homily for John 15 on Friday, May 27th

                We hear about the depth of the love of Jesus for us again in the Gospel. While all this love talk may seem overboard for us, these words were profoundly reassuring for the Christian community that gathered around the disciple John. They faced persecution and were kicked out of their places of worship by their Jewish siblings who were following a new rabbinic way of being a Jew in dispersion. Jesus was in solidarity with them in their hardship so they would not suffer in isolation. That means a great deal.
          Without the foundational love of Christ, nothing else matters. I think of all the times we need to know and hear that Christ is (or was) present to us - especially in our darkest moments or times of trauma. People come on retreat to experience Christ's love, and yet sometimes they become frustrated because they don't.
          Re-examining our image of Jesus Christ is a good place to start. Bill Barry, author of numerous Ignatian Spirituality books, writes that we ought to look at our friendship with God and Christ in the same way we develop human friendships, but somehow when we move into our prayer, we adopt a different (a foreign) mode of relating and we try on a more pious language that is not our own. We put ourselves in a different role and we don't present our true selves to God. This can be uncomfortable and we are aware of the power imbalance.
          Prayer is most effective when we talk with Christ the same way we talk with our friends. If I'm feeling vulnerable, I set my defenses high enough to protect myself - even from Christ. If I'm angry, I close in on myself and I am not so generous with my words. If I feel unimportant, I communicate in so many ways that I am not worthy of one's love. I look at the many ways I do not measure up and cannot be in the relationship. In other words, I look inward instead of looking at the one who is trying to actively love me. We replicate our non-verbal responses as well. I can give God the cold shoulder if my habit is to passive-aggressively do it to a colleague who offends me. I can curl up in a ball when frightened and not let anything or anyone touch me. I can smile to communicate friendliness. I can reach out when I am longing and want more.
          We make prudential judgments all the time about the data our senses give us about one another. These are healthy judgments, but we are to always challenge these judgments so we can grow and act with greater care and compassion. We have to choose our friends and then choose to spend time with them. This is a great gift - just to be there for someone you care about.
          Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises has the retreatant look at the call of the earthly king as the person moves into the Second Week exercises. After one considers the human dimensions of kingship, one can then contemplate how the eternal king thinks, acts, and feels. We have to use a similar model to examine the qualities and depths of friendship as well. As we hang out and spend time with a good friend, we notice crucial aspects about our friend's behavior and our own. We act a certain way when we are comfortable, the flow of discourse is relaxed, and our defenses are down because of the trust we have established over the years. We are happy and we enjoy our friend's presence and we let more and more of our true selves be known. When we examine our style of being with Jesus Christ, we find that we act similarly to the way we do with friends. Friendship is a mutual sharing of self with the other. We are given to ourselves as gifts and we are to share our gifts freely with others.
          We get healthy images of the ways friends act in readings today. In Acts, the apostles and presbyters send chosen representatives as official delegates with Paul and Barnabas to bring the good news of the inclusion of Gentiles into the community. Paul's community was under great assault by their Jewish cousins who told them Paul's version of Christianity was perverted. This delegation from the Apostles gave Paul credibility, but the real message that won over the hearts of the people was the tone.
          The tone told them, "You are welcome, and we, nor the Holy Spirit, wish to place upon you any burdens beyond the necessities of faith. We want you and care for your good growth and development and we want you to inherit the promises of God with the same equal dignity that we have. We want you to exercise your good judgment in freedom." It is healthy for us to notice the tone and style of words. When the tone is all about rules, rigidity, and authority, the person (or the church) is defensive; when the tone shows compassion and care for the other, freedom is encouraged. The Apostles and presbyters gave the Gentiles freedom and encouragement. A good friend encourages your freedom and freedom brings energy and new life. Freedom is essential to healthy prayer.
          Jesus gives us freedom in the Gospel passage. We have a choice to believe. We have a choice to keep his commandment - which is to love one another. I wish it were an easy commandment to keep. If it were, we would not be hearing such stories of heartache and suffering, and yet we are heartened by the immense love that God continues to show us throughout our suffering. Let's be conscious of what we choose to do, to be, and to say to Christ. He offers us his radical friendship, and a dimension of his friendship is to lay down his life for you - individually and personally. It is his free choice. The cross is his free choice. Will you choose to go with him to the cross of suffering and glory? You cannot escape it.
          We make choices every day based on our good desires. Accepting the cross is a choice. You can choose to be happy. You can choose to love or to fail to bother to love. Today, the choice before you is to accept this offer of friendship from Jesus, which is combined with his commandment to love. However you answer, savor how you have grown in your friendship with Christ over the years. If you decline the invitation, notice what Jesus might be feeling. If you accept, ask him once again how your choice makes him feel. In whatever we choose, may our lives always be oriented to creating and sustaining a free and generous love in a world that deeply yearns for it. May we experience Christ's longing desire to abundantly grace us with his generosity.

Behold, the pleasant spring

Behold, the pleasant and longed-for spring brings back joyfulness,
violet flowers fill the meadows,
the sun brightens everything,
sadness is now at an end!
Summer returns, now withdraw
the rigors of winter. Ah!

Now melts and disappears
ice, snow and the rest,
winter flees,
and now spring sucks
at summer's breast:
a wretched soul is he
who does not live or lust
under summer's rule. Ah!

They glory  and rejoice
in honeyed sweetness
who strive to make use of
Cupid's prize;
at Venus' command
let us glory and rejoice
in being Paris' equals. Ah!

Carmina Burana

Memorial Day celebrations

Memorial Day in the U.S. is celebrated on Monday, May 30th as the unofficial start to summer fun and festivities. It is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May and honors Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day was once known as Decoration Day. It first began as a time to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War and was extended  to all who fought in the war as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation. The celebration was further extended after World War One to honor Americans who died in all wars.

Today, Memorial Day is set aside for more general expressions of memory as many families will visit the graves of their deceased relatives - military or civilian. It is a long weekend set aside for family get-togethers, fireworks, beach trips, and major sporting events liked the Indianapolis 500.

Here are two fitting poems for Memorial Day remembrance.

In Flanders Fields was written by John McCrae, a Canadian physician who fought on the Western Front in 1914 before he was transferred to the medical corps at a French hospital.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Blue and The Gray - author unknown

 "O mother! What do they mean by blue?
And what do they mean by gray?"
I heard from the lips of a little child
As she bounded in from her play.
The mother’s eyes were filled with tears;
She turned to her darling fair
And smoothed away from the sunny brow
The treasure of golden hair.

"Why, mother’s eyes are blue, my sweet,
And grandpa’s hair is gray,
And the love we bear our darling child
Grows stronger every day."
"For what do they mean?" maintained the child,
"For I saw two cripples to-day,
And one of them said he had ‘fought for the blue,’
The other had ‘fought for the gray.’

"The one of the blue had lost a leg,
And the other had but one arm,
And both seemed worn and weary and sad,
Yet their greeting was kind and warm,
They told of the battles in days gone by
Till it made my blood run chill,
The leg was lost in the Wilderness fight
And the arm on Malvern Hill.

"They sat on the stone by the farmyard gate
And talked for an hour or more,
Till their eyes grew bright and their hearts seemed warm
With fighting their battles o’er;
And parted at last with a friendly grasp,
In a kindly, brotherly way,
Each asking God to speed the time
Uniting the blue and the gray."

Then the mother thought of other days,
Two stalwart boys from her riven;
How they’d knelt at her side, and, lisping, prayed:
"Our Father, who art in heaven;"
How one wore the gray and the other the blue,
How they passed away from sight
And had gone to the land where gray and blue
Merge in tints of celestial light.

And she answered her darling with golden hair,
While her heart was sorely wrung
With thoughts awakened in that sad hour
By her innocent, prattling tongue;
"The blue and the gray are the colors of God;
They are seen in the sky at even,
And many a noble, gallant soul
Has found them passports to heaven."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prayer: Elizabeth of the Trinity

It seems to me that nothing can distract one from God when one acts only for God, always in God’s holy presence, under that divine glance that penetrates to the depths of the soul. Even in the midst of the world it is possible to listen to God in the silence of a heart that wants to be God’s alone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

May 29, 2011
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3:14-18; John 14:15-21

External opposition faced the early church through its fragile beginnings. The Farewell Discourse by Jesus in John's Gospel bolstered the community's faith in times of misunderstanding by the larger Greek population and from the intense hostility of the Jews who moved in the direction of rabbinic Judaism. These new Christians were forbidden to worship with their Jewish cousins and they experience radical isolation. The debates were as heated as today's uncivil rhetoric between the conservative-progressive political factions in the church and civil society. Trust between the Johannine Christians and the Rabbinic Jews eroded precipitously after the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. Neither side could tolerate each other and they sought to protect themselves while correcting the other's miscalculations.
It seems that we often despise most those who are most alike to us in thought and of common ancestry. Sibling rivalries are complex relationships. The early church experienced wonder when Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ to them and performed many healings and exorcisms in Christ's name. The city was taken up with great joy. Samaria and the Jews were at odds for centuries though they were very alike. Israel's opponents accepted Philip's testimony. Peter and John visited them and prayed with them to receive baptism through the Holy Spirit. By paying attention to signs and wonders, two ancient peoples of common origin were able to reconcile with one another again - another sign of divinity at work in building up the church.

Jesus promises his return and an indwelling with the believing community, however this divine presence is evident only in believers and not with the outside community. The Advocate who Jesus will send is to remain permanently with them and will testify to the truth, but since the Christians exist in a hostile world, the Advocate takes on a role of a prosecutor. He will convict those who threatening the believing community. Jesus, in his heavenly realm takes on the role similar to Moses' who will plead as intercessor to the Father on behalf of the believers. Likewise, the Paraclete will accuse the sinful people before God who fail to believe in Jesus.
The Paraclete is called the Spirit of Truth in this Gospel - the Spirit that will align with the spirits operative within us to lead us to the good, beauty, and truth. Jesus tells us this Spirit will be in his believers and will help us see him again because he lives and we live. We are not alone in our hardships. This Spirit will guides us to all good things - even reconciliation with our neighbor or family. This Spirit will remind us of all that is life-giving. We have to search with discerning eyes to follow the paths before us that are life-giving. Too often we simply acknowledge them and then choose a familiar path that does not lead us where we would ultimately like to go. Think of the adventure we would be on if we simply learned to follow that which gives us life. It doesn't mean life will always be idyllic and without suffering, but we will reflect upon our lives and find great integrity, beauty, joy, and truth for having lived well and fully. We will know that we made choices aligned to the will of Christ who will do everything possible for us to share God's love and affection with us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: Paul and Barnabas set sail for Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia and a Roman colony. Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, listens to their preaching and opens her heart to them. She is baptized and invites them to stay with her. Paul is brought to the Areopagus in Athens and tells them of the "Unknown God" they worship. This God is the same God as the Christians worship and has brought about salvation, including the resurrection of the dead. This concept unsettles some who find it a difficult teaching to accept. Paul travels to Corinth and meets the Jews, Aquila and Priscilla, who were forced to leave Rome because of Claudius' dispersion edict. He learns the tent-making trade and preaches to Jews who reject him. He encounters Titus Justus and Crispus, a synagogue leader, who come to believe. The entire congregation believes the news of Jesus Christ. While in Corinth, Paul receives a vision from the Lord urging him to go on speaking as no harm will come to him. Others are harmed, but Paul escapes injury. Paul travels to Antioch in Syria. Priscilla and Aquila meet Apollos, a Jewish Christian, who is preaching the way of Jesus, but of the baptism by the Holy Spirit he is not informed. They take him aside and teach him the correct doctrine. He then vigorously refutes the Jews in public, establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.

Gospel: Jesus tells his friends that the Advocate will come and testify to him. Meanwhile, they will be expelled from the synagogues and harmed - even unto death. The Spirit of truth will guide his friends to all truth. Jesus confuses them by saying, "a little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me." As they debate, he tells them their mourning will become joy - just like a woman who is groaning in labor pains. As Jesus tells them again that he is part of the Father, he instructs them to ask for anything in his name and God will grant it for Jesus is leaving the world and going back to the Father. The Father loves them because they have loved him. The Father will reward them for their generosity.
Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Visitation of the Virgin Mary commemorates the visit of Mary in her early pregnancy to Mary, who is reported to be her elder cousin. Luke writes about the shared rejoicing of the two women - Mary's conception by the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth's surprising pregnancy in her advanced years. Elizabeth calls Mary blessed and Mary sings her song of praise to God, the Magnificat.

Wednesday: Justin, martyr (100-165), was a Samaritan philosopher who converted to Christianity and explained doctrine through philosophical treatises. His debating opponent reported him to the Roman authorities who tried him and when he refused to sacrifice to the gods, was condemned to death.

Thursday: Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs (d. 304) died in Rome during the Diocletian persecution. Peter was an exorcist who ministered under the priest, Marcellinus. Stories are told that in jail they converted their jailer and his family. These men are remembered in Eucharistic prayer I.

Ascension Thursday is celebrated in some dioceses today while most of the world recognizes it on Sunday. A celebration on Ascension Thursday allows for the novena to be said as we await the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Friday: Charles Lwanga and 22 companion martyrs from Uganda (18660-1886) felt the wrath of King Mwanga after Lwanga and the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) censured him for his cruelty and immorality. The King determined to rid his kingdom of Christians. He persecuted over 100 Christians, but upon their death new converts joined the church.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 29,1991. Pope John Paul II announces that Paulo Dezza, SJ is to become a Cardinal, as well as Jan Korec, in Slovakia.
·         May 30, 1849. Vincent Gioberti's book Il Gesuita Moderno was put on the Index. Gioberti had applied to be admitted into the Society, and on being refused became its bitter enemy and calumniator.
·         May 31, 1900. The new novitiate of the Buffalo Mission, St Stanislaus, in South Brooklyn, Ohio, near Cleveland, is blessed.
·         Jun 1, 1527. Ignatius was thrown into prison after having been accused of having advised two noblewomen to undertake a pilgrimage, on foot, to Compostella.
·         Jun 2, 1566. The Professed House was opened in Toledo. It became well known for the fervor of its residents and the wonderful effects of their labors.
·         Jun 3, 1559. A residence at Frascati, outside of Rome, was purchased for the fathers and brothers of the Roman College.
·         Jun 4, 1667. The death in Rome of Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini, a man of great knowledge and humility. While he was Prefect of Studies of the Roman College he wrote his great work, The History of the Council of Trent.

Graduations

Congratulations to all graduates! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to studies. Formal and continuing education are essential ingredients to making our world a better place. May you also continue to form and inform your faith. Educating your mind, heart, and conscience will create an environment of making prudential decisions that benefit the common good. Thanks for your work. I hope you had fun too!

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God. It is frequently conversing in secret with God who loves us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spirituality: Religion’s Two Senses

‘Religion,’ in Juan Luis Segundo’s understanding, has two distinct meanings – one typified by the religious authorities of Jesus’ day, the other by Jesus himself. The first arises from efforts to codify what is believed about God, and then develop practices believed to give privileged access to secrets at the heart of life. Designated authorities then ‘dispense’ they mysteries through institutional structures. In Segundo’s view two dangers are implicit in this form of religion: first, those who are not parties to it are likely to themselves ignored or discriminated against; and second, formal symbolic language and ritual tend to suggest that the mystery itself has been enclosed or domesticated to some extent, within creed and ceremonial.

Segundo sees Jesus placing relationships at the core of religion. His key relationships were with God, whom he addressed familiarly as Abba, and with a group of companions to whom he offered friendship and schooling in service…. For Jesus, the Temple and synagogue carried quite different meanings than those they represented for the religious authorities. Jesus was at heart a layman. Life in the fields and marketplaces was his central locus of discovery and teaching – but he showed also how life in these arenas might be illuminated and clarified by participation in public worship and prayer.

Adrian Lyons, S.J. from Imagine Believing

Prayer: Gregory I, the Great

It is the wisdom of the just to love the truth as it is and to avoid what is false, to do what is right without reward and to be more willing to put up with evil than to do it, not to seek revenge for wrong, and to consider as gain any insult for truth's sake.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spirituality: ‘Believe’ used alone

In the Synoptic Gospels, Martin Buber notes, ‘believe’ frequently appears absolutely, that is, without an object. In the Jewish Scriptures, ‘faith’ is used in this way to describe persons who enjoy an intimate, trusting relationship with God, and in this sense have entered God’s realm. Once inside, they find that ‘all things otherwise impossible become and are possible here.’ With reference to the gospels, Buber has specifically in mind the father of the epileptic demoniac, who comes pleading to Jesus: ‘If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ Jesus retorts, ‘If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes.’ To which the father replies memorably, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’

Adrian Lyons, S.J. from Imagine Believing

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homily: Fifth Sunday in Easter

                Many of us are comforted by this Gospel passage at funerals. It consoles us especially when the deceased person has left the world with many ambiguous relationships, and in particular with his or her relationship with Christ. It consoles the many who realize that God has a place for everyone in heaven even if the deceased was difficult, peculiar, a partial believer, or did not reconcile major relationships. We worry that someone did not merit heaven. It causes us to consider the paths we choose and to make adjustments now so Christ can eventually welcome us into his Father's house. We hope for a room set aside for us because we know our history of decision-making.
          Before he goes to his death, Jesus consoles his believers saying, "Do not let your hearts be troubled." He points out again that access to the Father is through him. This is the purpose of Thomas' question, "How can we know the way?" If we know Jesus in the earthly life, we will know him when he returns in his risen state. He is going to the Father's house to make a place ready for them, and he will return. Why? Simply because he deeply cares for them and wants to be with his friends. Because Jesus came back for them, we also know he desires us so much that he will remember us and come back for us. While the content of the words is reassuring, the tone carries the stronger message: The heart of Jesus breaks because he will be separated from his friends, but his memory outlasts death. The heart of Jesus brings us to the mind and attitude of God.
          I think back on an 8-day retreat I made here as a novice in preparation for my first vows. My novice director, Jim Gillon, is known worldwide for being non-directive. He surprised me when he told me to demand from God that I experience him now my prayer. I had to demand God be present to me. I thought that was presumptuous for me to demand something of God. I was tentative to follow Jim's uncharacteristic lead, but it was the first time I ever experienced him in this mode. I reckoned I had to try.
          Jim gave me three passages from which to choose, one of which was the Lord's Prayer. I wanted an exciting retreat of confirmation with the Lord where he would invite me to take vows. I thought the Lord's Prayer was tried and true - overall a good passage, but boring.
          I sat down for my 45 minute prayer session, begged God to show up so my director won't get mad at me, and I watched Jesus get up from our conversation and go to a more secluded spot so he could pray to his Father. I was intrigued. I had never watched Jesus as a Jew pray before and I thought I could learn something so I stayed and observed what he was doing and how he was doing it. I was startled when I glanced at my watch to see if 10 minutes had passed and I realized 45 minutes zoomed by.
          During my 2nd of 4 prayer periods that day, I returned to watch Jesus, the man, pray the "Our Father." I remember thinking, "this is pleasurable." I'm watching Jesus pray first hand and it is something that he enjoys, not something he is doing because he is told it is important. He likes being with his heavenly father. I was further amused and I watched the expressions on his face as he began his prayer. I listened to his tone of voice as he spoke and I reverenced the silence that overtook him. I found it so cool that he just let me watch him during his private time. The prayer period passed and I repeated this prayer twice more during the day.
          I noticed when I saw Jim the next day that I was the one who was directive. I told him I would pray the "Our Father" again and did not need him to recommend other passages that day. I think for once I was an easy retreatant because it was the only passage I used for the 4 daily prayer periods on the 8-day retreat. I had little to say to Jim except that Jesus was teaching me to pray and as he was doing so, he introduced me to his father and that was all I needed.
          I contemplated Jesus over and over as he sat chanting in Aramaic (and sometimes in English.) Sometimes these contemplations swirled around in a flurry but retained a strong, inner calm. Sometimes I couldn't see the distinction between Jesus and the Father because they seemed meshed together. Sometimes I was drawn deeply into prayer that I could not distinguish between the words I was praying from the words of Jesus. He and I were fused as one. I felt drawn into presence of each and lost perspective on who was who. I contemplated Jesus as he contemplated God and he kept showing me a dimension of God that was both new and constant. I experienced the reality of the words of Jesus when he said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. " By the end of the retreat, when I sat down with Jesus, it was as if he instantly pointed me to the way to God's heart. I no longer needed to demand it. It came easy and I learned to cherish that boring old Lord's prayer.
          Jesus wanted to share his Father with me. He says, "if you know me, then you will know my Father." As we begin our retreat, let's come to know Jesus better in his humanity. When we gaze upon him as a man, we behold his divinity. We can trust he will bring us to our steadfast saving God. Let's not forget him within the weightiness of our agendas or bypass him by going directly to the Creator God who can be found in nature or by seeking him through other means. Remember, this is the man who prepared a place for you. Now, he wants a place within your world because he has come back and speaks of his longing desire to be with you. He came back for the expressed purpose of being close to you. He says, "where I am, you also may be." He wants to know from you whether he is welcome. He is awaiting your favorable reply.

Prayer: Brother Roger of Taize

Christ, Savior of all life,
you come to us always.

Welcoming you,
in the peace of our nights,
in the silence of our days,
in the beauty of creation,
in the hours of great combat within,
welcoming you is knowing that you will be with us
in every situation, always.

Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Prayer: Kathleen Norris

Prayer is not asking for what you think you want but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Fortune's Throne

On Fortune's throne
I used to sit raised up,
crowned with
the many-colored flowers of prosperity;
though I may have flourished
happy and blessed,
now I fall from the peak
deprived of glory.

The wheel of Fortune turns;
I go down, demeaned;
another is raised up;
far too high up
sits the king at the summit -
let him fear ruin!

Carmina Burana

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fifth Sunday in Easter

May 22, 2011
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

We hear the familiar passage that is often proclaimed at funeral liturgies, "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places." It consoles the many who realize that God has a place for everyone in heaven even if the deceased was difficult, peculiar, a partial believer, or did not reconcile major relationships. We worry that someone might not make it to heaven or that he or she did not merit heaven. It causes us to consider the paths we choose and to make adjustments so Christ can welcome us into his Father's house. We want there to be a room set aside for us because we know of our imperfections. These words are comforting because of the deep sadness we feel from our losses.
Jesus consoles his believers saying, "Do not let your hearts be troubled" as they are grieving that their beloved teacher is going to his death. He makes the point once again that he and the Father are one. This is the purpose for the question of Thomas, "How can we know the way?" If we trust in Jesus, we will know him when he returns in his risen state. He is going to the Father's house to make a place ready for them, and he will return. Why? Because he cares for them as much as the Father cares for them and they both want to be with those in the world they have called. Jesus will remember them and come back to collect them. While the content of the words are reassuring, the tone of the message provides the real comfort. The heart of Jesus breaks because he will be separated from his friends.

We know our faith is alive if we are concerned for the well-being of neighbors. Our faith that does justice out of mercy is what distinguishes us from unbelievers and pagans. We get an example of the way the early church began to exercise their maturing faith when they called forth deacons to take care of their neglected widows. Service of neighbor was inextricably tied to digesting the word of God. It was not a decision made out of logic and reasoning, but out of compassionate concern for the more vulnerable community members. Because of the community's exceeding goodness, the faith spread and the number of disciples greatly increased. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity.
We serve our church and world well if we step outside ourselves and concern ourselves more with neighbors than for ourselves. This does not mean to neglect or efface oneself because prudential self-care is a primary Christian virtue. It does mean that regardless of our resources we always can be extraordinarily, but appropriately compassionate in word and deed to others. We can become vulnerable to others' needs and they to ours. Together, we build a church based on our love of Christ who desires us longingly. With his merciful care for us, we can be mercifully caring to others and we can accept that we are, as Peter says in the second reading, ""a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that we may announce the praises" of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.""

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: As Gentiles and Jews in Iconium were about to attack Paul and Barnabas, they fled to Lystra where Paul healed a lame man. The crowds began to put their faith in Paul and Barnabas as gods, but the men protested and told the story of the Christ event. Opposition to Paul arose shortly afterwards and he was stoned. They left for Derbe and strengthened the disciples in those cities and encouraged them during times of hardship. Some of Paul's Jewish opposition raised the question of circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic laws. Along the way to Jerusalem to seek the advice of the Apostles, they told everyone of the conversion of Gentiles. After much debate, Peter and James decided that no further restrictions are to be made of the Gentiles. The Apostles and presbyters were chosen to give news to Paul and Barnabas that the Gentiles were indeed welcomed into the faith with no extra hardships placed on them. The people were delighted with the news. Paul heard of a man named Timothy who was well-regarded by the believers.  Paul had him circumcised and they travelled to Macedonia to proclaim the good news.

Gospel: In The Farewell Discourse, Jesus reassures his disciples that he will remain with them if they keep his loving commandments. To punctuate his message, he tells them he will send an advocate to teach and remind them of all he told them. He leaves them his lasting peace that will help them endure many difficult times. This peace will allow us to remain close to him - we will be organically part of him as we are the branches and he is the vine. Remaining close to him will allow us to share complete joy with one another. Jesus once again proves his love to them by saying the true friend, that is, the Good Shepherd, will lay down his love for one's friends. However, even with the love of Jesus, we will experience hatred in this world, but as friends of Jesus and as God's elect, their harm can never really wound our souls.
Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Our Lady of the Way or in Italian, Madonna della Strada, is a painting enshrined at the Church of the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus. The Madonna Della Strada is the patroness of the Society of Jesus. In 1568, Cardinal Farnese erected the Gesu in place of the former church of Santa Maria della Strada. 

Wednesday: Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor, (673-735), is the only English doctor of the church. As a child, he was sent to a Benedictine monastery where he studied theology and was ordained. He wrote thorough commentaries on scripture and history as well as poetry and biographies. His famous work is the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," the source for much of Anglo-Saxon history.

Gregory VII, pope (1020-1085), was a Tuscan who was sent to a monastery to study under John Gratian, who became Gregory VI. He served the next few popes as chaplain, treasurer, chancellor and counselor before he became Gregory VII. He introduced strong reforms over civil authorities that caused much consternation. Eventually, the Romans turned against him when the Normans sacked Rome.

Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi (1566-1607), a Florentine, chose to become a Carmelite nun instead of getting married. Her biography, written by her confessor, gives accounts of intense bouts of desolation and joy. She is reputed to have gifts of prophecy and healing.

Thursday: Philip Neri, priest (1515-1595), is known as the "Apostle of Rome." A Florentine who was educated by the Dominicans, he re-evangelized Roe by establishing confraternities of laymen to minister to pilgrims and the sick in hospitals. He founded the Oratorians when he gathered a sufficient following because of his spiritual wisdom.

Friday: Augustine of Canterbury, bishop (d. 604) was sent to England with 40 monks from St. Andrew's monastery to evangelize the pagans. They were well-received. Augustine was made bishop, established a hierarchy, and changed many pagans feasts to religious ones. Wales did not accept the mission; Scotland took St. Andrew's cross as their national symbol. Augustine began a Benedictine monastery at Canterbury and was Canterbury's first archbishop.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 22, 1965. Pedro Arrupe was elected the 28th general of the Society of Jesus.
·         May 23, 1873. The death of Peter de Smet, a famous missionary among Native Americans of the great plains and mountains of the United States. He served as a mediator and negotiator of several treaties.
·         May 24, 1834. Don Pedro IV expelled the Society from Brazil.
·         May 25, 1569. At Rome the Society was installed by Pope St Pius V in the College of Penitentiaries. Priests of various nationalities who were resident there were required to act as confessors in St Peter's.
·         May 26, 1673. Ching Wei‑San (Emmanuel de Sigueira) dies, the first Chinese Jesuit priest.
·         May 27, 1555. The Viceroy of India sent an embassy to Claudius, Emperor of Ethiopia, hoping to win him and his subjects over to Catholic unity. Nothing came of this venture, but Fr. Goncalvo de Silveira, who would become the Society's first martyr on the Africa soil, remained in the country.
·         May 28, 1962. The death of Bernard Hubbard famous Alaskan missionary. He was the author of the book Mush, You Malemutes! and wrote a number of articles on the Alaska mission.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prayer: Dorothy Day


Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. My faith may be the size of a mustard seed but even so, even, aside from its potential, it brings with it a beginning of love, an inkling of love, so intense that human love with all its heights and depths pales in comparison.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 17

One way of serving God’s mystery of salvation is through dialogue, a spiritual conversation of equal partners, that opens human beings to the core of their identity. In such a dialogue, we come into contact with the activity of God in the lives of other men and women, and deepen our sense of this divine action…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prayer: Joseph Bernardin

Active waiting for the Lord means not allowing ourselves to be lulled into purely private interests in our homes and apartments, but donating our attention, time, and talents. It implies sharing our strengths and accepting our weaknesses in our parishes, schools, community work, and in society at large.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prayer: Prayer for Taking off your Shoes

Creator of fire and water,
Your burning bush has turned into a bubbling brook
And I have taken off my shoes
having heard you call my name.

You do not speak in fire only, Lord.
In water you have sung your songs
And you are singing still.
Today you chant a memory-song to my grown-up heart.

You are washing my anxiety away
You are reminding me of days of old when I had time to play.
I stand barefoot upon the stones the rushing water,
lapping at my heels.
The sharp stones pierce my grown-up soles
My tough child-feet have worn away as I grew up,
forgetting to play.

Creator of the rocks and streams,
I'm growing up once more
I'm taking off my shoes and remembering to adore.
My feet are getting tough again
My heart is getting young.

From Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prayer: Leo I, the Great

Short and fleeting are the joys of this world's pleasures which endeavor to turn aside from the path of life those who are called to eternity. The faithful and religious spirit, therefore, must desire the things which are heavenly, and being eager for the divine promises, lift itself to the love of the incorruptible good and the hope of the true light.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Prayer: Teresa of Calcutta

We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist; the moment we do, something breaks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Easter

May 15, 2011
Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10

Good Shepherd Sunday conjures up images of a smiling, carefree Jesus lovingly caring for a single lamb in a larger flock of sheep. Everyone is meant to be happy and safe in his fold as we realize the care of Jesus reaches out to each individual. Many scriptural allusions, like Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd), convey trust in the guidance of the Lord as a concerned, providential shepherd. The Hebrews enjoyed the notion that the Lord is always looking out for them. Today, however, many people bristle when they are cast as "the sheep" because it reminds them of the old-fashioned, misguided concept of the laity as uneducated, unreflective people who are at their best when they mindlessly "pray, pay, and obey."
As we hear the Good Shepherd passage proclaimed, we realize distress and tension exists between Jesus and "the Jews" at the feast of Dedication. The division first surfaces three months earlier during the feast of Tabernacles. In the parable, Jesus makes a striking claim before the Pharisees: I am the gate and the good shepherd. All others are imposters, thieves, or robbers. The sheep know my voice and are afraid of others who intend them harm for their motivations are purely self-centered.

In the passage that precedes the Good Shepherd, the Pharisees were called out for their blindness. Jesus is now warning the crowds not to respond to their teaching. Jesus declares himself to be the gate through which persons have access to the sheep. He is also the true, ideal shepherd. For John, he becomes the only source for salvation as all who have come before him are cast as thieves who will not bring salvation. Jesus is cast as the one who will bring the people life.
One test of a shepherd is to put oneself in harm's way for the sake of the sheep. It becomes a test of credibility. It shows to others that the shepherd is a real person with authentic human compassion. When leaders are more concerned for the safe well-being of others and finds ways to learn their needs and desires, shepherds will reveal who they really are. The flock can see more about their shepherds than they realize. They trust their experience of the relationship between them. If shepherds earn their trust - time after time after time - the flock consents to follow their voice. Mostly, the flock wants to know that the shepherd's voice is aligned with the heart and attitude of God. People want to do well by God and by one another. They want their leaders to mirror God's goodness to others and not to seek their own reward.

For many reasons, trust between the laity and church leaders has eroded. The laity cannot place their faith or trust in religious leaders and these leaders are at the gate allowing some seekers in and keeping others out. Greater risk is needed as we make ourselves more vulnerable to each other. New paradigms of caring are to be used. We want the same goals. We need to examine our methodologies and have the courage to re-form them.
In some cases, the laity will be able to give the benefit of the doubt to leaders so trust can be re-established; the leaders also will be able to trust the goodwill of the laity, learn of their needs and concerns, and daringly put themselves in harm's way for the protection of each blessed person. To do this, we must learn new ways to listen to the voice of Jesus Christ again and to commit to the hard, incessant tasks of developing a more trusting relationship with each other.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: We continue with the Acts of the Apostles with the Apostles' decision to include the Gentiles into the community. Peter lifted the Jewish dietary laws for them declaring that, "God granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too." Those who had been dispersed since the persecution that followed Stephen's stoning began proclaiming the story of Jesus Christ to their new communities. The number of converts increased dramatically. The word of God continued to spread and grow. At Antioch during prayer, the Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." In Perga in Pamphylia, Paul stood up and told the story of God's deliverance of the people from bondage and slavery. God's work continued in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord, but strict Jews opposed Paul and Barnabas and claimed they told the wrong story. The Gentiles were delighted when Paul and Barnabas opened scripture for them and told them of their inclusion as God's elect. Salvation was accessible to them.

Gospel: The Good Shepherd tale continues in John as Jesus tells his friends the characteristics of a self-interested person who pretends to be a shepherd. The sheep know and trust the voice of the good shepherd. On the Dedication feast, Jesus declares he is the good shepherd and that he and the Father are one. Jesus cries out, "whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me." Jesus speaks and acts on behalf of the Father. Further "I am" statements are made by Jesus as in John 13 when after Jesus washes the feet of the disciples declares that "I am." Jesus, in his farewell discourse, begins to console his friends. He tells them that he is going away but will soon return to take away their fear. He reassures them that since they know the mind and heart of Jesus, they also know the mind and heart of the Father since they are one.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Andrew Bobola, S.J., priest martyr (1591-1657), is called the Martyr of Poland because of his excruciatingly painful death. He worked during a plague to care for the sick, but he became "wanted" by the Cossacks during a time when anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit sentiment was high. His preaching converted whole villages back to Catholicism and he was hunted down because he was termed a "soul-hunter."

Wednesday: John I, pope and martyr (d. 526), was a Tuscan who became pope under the rule of Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. Theodoric opposed Emperor Justin I in Constantinople who persecuted Arians. John was sent to Justin to end the persecutions. He returned to great glory, but Theodoric was not satisfied, though Justin met all his demands. John was imprisoned and soon died because of ill treatment.

Friday: Bernardine of Siena, priest, (1380-1444) was from a family of nobles who cared for the sick during plagues. He entered the Franciscans and preached across northern and central Italy with homilies that understood the needs of the laity. He became vicar general and instituted reforms.

Saturday: Christopher Magallanes, priest and companions, martyrs (1869-1927) was a Mexican priest who served the indigenous people by forming agrarian communities. He opened seminaries when the ant-Catholic government kept shutting them down. He was arrested and executed with 21 priests and 3 laymen.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 15, 1815. Readmission of the Society into Spain by Ferdinand VII. The members of the Society were again exiled on July 31, 1820.
·         May 16, 1988. In Paraguay, Pope John Paul II canonizes Roque Gonzalez, Alfonso Rodriguez, and Juan del Castillo.
·         May 17, 1572. Pope Gregory XIII exempted the Society from choir and approved simple vows after two years of novitiate and ordination before solemn profession. In these matters he reversed a decree of St Pius V.
·         May 18, 1769. The election of Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli as Pope Clement XIV. He was the pope who suppressed the Society.
·         May 19, 1652. Birth of Paul Hoste, mathematician and expert on construction of ships and history of naval warfare.
·         May 20, 1521. Ignatius was seriously wounded at Pamplona, Spain, while defending its fortress against the French.
·         May 21, 1925. Pius XI canonizes Peter Canisius, with Teresa of the Child Jesus, Mary Madeleine Postal, Madeleine Sophie Barat, John Vianney, and John Eudes. Canisius is declared a Doctor of the Church.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prayer: Litany of Jesuit Saints and Holy Men

Ignatius of Loyola, our holy founder, man of great desires and perfect humility, pray for us.

Francis Xavier, courageous warrior ever seeking new souls for Christ, pray for us.

Peter Faber, first companion of Ignatius and cherished friend of all, pray for us.

Stanislaus Kostka, of ready heart and single mind, pray for us.

Francis Borgia, nobleman of poverty, model of indifference, prayer for us.

Edmund Campion, fearless orator and source of courage to the persecuted, pray for us.

Aloysius Gonzaga, consolation and care for the sick and the dying, pray for us.

Robert Southwell, prisoner-poet of comfort and strength, pray for us.

Peter Canisius, scholar, builder, and teacher of little children, pray for us.

Nicholas Owen, clever carpenter, companion loyal to death, pray for us.

Alphonsus Rodriguez, mystical friend, model of hospitality, pray for us.

Robert Bellarmine, rich of mind yet poor of spirit, pray for us.

John Berchmans, single-hearted student, model of simplicity, pray for us.

John Francis Regis, compassionate confessor, rekindle of burnt-out faith, pray for us.

Isaac Jogues, trusting missionary, obedient unto death, pray for us.

Jean de Brebeuf, lover of the cross and the name of Jesus, pray for us.

Peter Claver, tireless lover of the poor and the powerless, pray for us.

Alberto Hurtado, advocate of the poor and social activist, pray for us.

Claude La Colombiere, faithful servant and perfect friend of the loving heart of Christ, pray for us.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, catcher of fire and crafter of words, pray for us.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, mystical lover of all that is and all that is to be, pray for us.

Rutilio Grande, devoted pastor of the poor and the oppressed, pray for us.

Karl Rahner, professor of prayer and loyal servant of the church, pray for us.

Ignacio Ellacuria and companions, fearless and faithful proclaimers of the Good News in the face of persecution, pray for us.

Pedro Arrupe, grace-filled leader of renewal and rededication, pray for us.

Concluding Prayer

Almighty and ever-watchful God, Lord of the heavens above and the earth below, your Divine Goodness created us in love from every part of the world. Your Divine Wisdom placed us in the chaos and darkness of the twenty-first century as: poets and singers, engineers and schoolmasters, scholars and pastors, tailors and gardeners, builders and administrators, artists and friends.

Your Divine Providence called us into the company of your son, Jesus. Therefore, we devote all our energies to your Divine Majesty to bring order into our worlds, to make it fertile, and to bless it. We pledge you the hours of our lives and the use of our deaths through our Mother, the Lady Mary, and through our King and Good Brother, Jesus.

By Louis J. McCabe, S.J. and Philip G. Steele, S.J.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prayer: Boniface

Can there be a more fitting pursuit in youth or a more valuable possession in old age than a knowledge of Sacred Scripture? In the midst of storms it will preserve you from the dangers of shipwreck and guide you to the shore of an enchanting paradise and the everlasting bliss of the angels.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Song: "If you Wait for Me" by Tracy Chapman

"If you wait for me" by Tracy Chapman reminds me of the love song that God sings to us. God is always waiting for us to respond. God waits for us. Steadfast. It reminds me that God misses us and yearns to be ever closer to us. God vows to come to us if we simply wait for God. It can be played by clicking the link below:

"If you wait for me" on Youtube.

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

O God, in whom all things live, who commanded us to seek you, who are always ready to be found: to know you is life, to serve you is freedom, to praise you is our soul’s delight. We bless you and adore you, we worship you and magnify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mothers Day Prayer

Mothers Day

Blessings upon all mothers on this day set aside in their honor. May the Lord bless you abundantly for the good you have given your children and their friends. You have given us life and you have also given us reasons to find hope and joy in life. Thank you for the nurturing care and the compassionate guidance you provided us to set us on a good course in life.

Thank you for those who have been our biological mothers. Thank you also for our aunts, grandmothers, and sisters and all those who have been mothers to us in some capacity that has made our hearts and souls open up to life and to grow in surprising ways. We honor those women who would like to have been mothers and are not able to do so and we honor those women who would like to have been married and remain single. We thank you all for the tremendous influence you have upon us. Our prayer is that God will generously spoil you with great goodness today and always. Amen.

Prayer: Blessed Pope John XXIII

Easter is for us all a dying to sin, to passion, to hatred and enmity, and all that brings about disorder, spiritual and material bitterness, and anguish. This death is indeed only the first step toward a higher goal – for our Easter is also a mystery of new life.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Question: Trust

I often hear about people who want to trust again. Perhaps trust in a human relationship or with the church has been violated and the person wants it restored. I wonder what a person truly desires when this trust has been violated. In whom or in what does a person want trust restored? Why do it if the trust is violated? I wonder: are there differen nuances to "trust" that we need to examine.

What are ways of becoming trustful?

What does it mean for trust to exist again? What kind of trust are we seeking?

Prayer: Helen Keller

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prayer: Francis Xavier, S.J. to Ignatius of Loyola, S.J.

If the Lord our God has separated us by these vast distances, we are still united by our awareness of these strong bonds that unite us in a single spirit and a common love, since, if I have judged aright, neither physical separation, nor estrangement, nor forgetfulness can have any meaning for those who love one another in the Lord. For it seems to me that we shall always sustain each other as we were ever wont to do before.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Third Sunday in Easter

May 8, 2011
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

Never underestimate the effect of one's hospitality. It reveals crucial openness - a most essential prerequisite to faith and a fulfilling life. The early church is replete with examples of extending hospitality to anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus display this disposition of openness and hospitality as they leave Jerusalem despondent at the failure of the mission of Jesus. As they allow a stranger to walk with them and converse about what they are thinking and feeling, they are able to have their minds more fully open to what this stranger is telling them.

When we meet the two disciples, they are leaving Jerusalem since they abandoned the way of Jesus for he did not meet their expectations. Their infidelity is contrasted with the fidelity of the women who were the first to proclaim the Easter message. The women disciples' proclamation is resisted and does not open one's eyes to faith, but when one hears the message, Jesus is able to interpret his life in fulfillment of all God's promises from one end of Scriptures to its end. Since the traveling disciples entertain the stranger, their eyes can be opened to faith. The risen Jesus reconciles two wayfarers, who, once they are forgiven and enlightened, immediately journey back to Jerusalem to the Peter and the others.

The kingdom of God comes through the sharing of food with others, especially outcasts. The disciples had to have eaten with Jesus many times and they would have known his particular way of sharing the meal. His customs and techniques would have been noticeable. They probably ate with him at the Passover meal. Jesus told them at his farewell meal that he would not share food with his disciples until God's kingdom came. His actions signify that it has indeed come and Jesus is bring back his disciples into his fold. He is returning them to one another by forgiving them and this forgiveness comes only because they reached out to the stranger and was hospitable to him.

They found "their hearts burning." Because of their real, human concern for the stranger, their sadness, foolishness, and slowness of heart are transformed into joy, insight, and a ready recommitment to Jesus. When they return to Peter, they find he too has been forgiven and is now empowered to strengthen his fellow believers along the way.

It is not difficult to see the effects that hospitality can have on today's church and world. A church that is open to growth, in an enriching dialogue with secular professionals, and flourishing with the culture around it is healthy; one that is defensive and closed to new ideas struggles. We have a conscious choice to make as individuals and as a community. It seems that extending a welcoming hand to a stranger provided the early church with extraordinary benefits. It can still work today, especially at a time when many are discouraged and despondent - just like the traveling pair of disciples. When we give the risen Jesus an opportunity to enter our way, we gain forgiveness, strength, and insight that further transforms our community. We see the world differently because we are joyful at the ways the Lord is present to us and urging us to go forward even when the larger picture looks bleak. This risen Jesus will give us courage and we will exude an enlightened happiness that many will envy. Always extend your hands in friendship to that friend, enemy, or stranger. It will end in LIFE!

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We continue with the Acts of the Apostles and we read the account of Stephen who was working great signs and wonders among the people in the name of Jesus. False testimony is lodged against him but he stands angelic before them. His angry opponents stone him including Saul who gave consent to execute him. A severe persecution breaks out in Jerusalem and the believers are displaced to Judea and Samaria. Saul, trying to destroy the Church, enters house after house to arrest them. Philip's testimony and miracles in Samaria emboldens the believers. Philip heads out to Gaza and meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah's texts. Philip interprets the scripture and the eunuch begs to be baptized. Meanwhile, Saul is carrying out hateful acts against the believers and is struck blind as he beholds an appearance of Jesus. The beginning of his call and conversion is happening.

Gospel: In John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 as a flashback to the Eucharistic memory of the believers with the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus instructs them, "it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; my heavenly Father gives true bread." Jesus proclaims, "I am the bread of life." He further states that anyone who comes to him will never hunger or thirst. Jesus will raise everyone on the last day. All that is required is belief in him. Belief is a gift not given to all and the way to the Father is through the Son. As you would expect, opposition arises to the statements of Jesus as his cannibalistic references are hard sayings to swallow. He tells the people, "my flesh is true food, and by blood is true drink." If you eat of Jesus, you will live forever.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i, priest (1840-1889), was a Belgian who entered the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was sent on mission to the Hawaiian Islands and eventually volunteered as a chaplain to the leper colony of Moloka'i. He contracted leprosy and died at the colony. He is remembered for his brave choice to accept the mission and to bring respect and dignity to the lepers.

Thursday: Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs (early second century), were Roman Imperial soldiers who converted to Christianity. They left the army and were martyred when they refused to sacrifice to idols during Emperor Trajan's reign.

Pancras, martyr, (d. 304)was a Syrian orphan who was brought to Rome by his uncle. Both soon after converted to Christianity. Pancras was beheaded at age 14 during the Diocletian persecution and buried on the Via Aurelia.

Friday: Our Lady of Fatima is a name given to Mary after she appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal between May 13 and October 13, 1917. During her appearances, Mary stressed the importance of repentance, ongoing conversion, and dedicated to the heart of Mary through praying the Rosary.

Saturday: Matthias, Apostle (first century) was chosen after the resurrection to replace Judas who committed suicide. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter told 120 people who gathered that they were to choose a new apostle - someone who had been with them from the baptism of Jesus until the resurrection. Two names were put forward and the assembly cast lots. Matthias was chosen.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 8, 1853. The death of Jan Roothan, the 21st general of the Society, who promoted the central role of the Spiritual Exercises in the work of the Society after the restoration.
·         May 9, 1758. The 19th General Congregation opened, the last of the Old Society. It elected Lorenzo Ricci as general.
·         May 10,1773. Empress Maria Teresa of Austria changed her friendship for the Society into hatred, because she had been led to believe that a written confession of hers (found and printed by Protestants) had been divulged by the Jesuits.
·         May 11, 1824. St Regis Seminary opens in Florissant, Missouri, by Fr. Van Quickenborne. It was the first Roman Catholic school in USA for the higher education of Native American Indians.
·         May 12,1981. A letter of this date, from Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, speaks positively of Teilhard de Chardin in celebration of the centenary of his birth (May 1,1881).
·         May 13, 1572. Election of Gregory XIII to succeed St Pius V. To him the Society owes the foundation of the Roman and German Colleges.
·         May 14, 1978. Letter of Pedro Arrupe to the whole Society on Inculturation.

Mothers Day

Blessings upon all mothers on this day set aside in their honor. May the Lord bless you abundantly for the good you have given your children and their friends. You have given us life and you have also given us reasons to find hope and joy in life. Thank you for the nurturing care and the compassionate guidance you provided us to set us on a good course in life.

Thank you for those who have been our biological mothers. Thank you also for our aunts, grandmothers, and sisters and all those who have been mothers to us in some capacity that has made our hearts and souls open up to life and to grow in surprising ways. We honor those women who would like to have been mothers and are not able to do so and we honor those women who would like to have been married and remain single. We thank you all for the tremendous influence you have upon us. Our prayer is that God will generously spoil you with great goodness today and always. Amen.