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Friday, September 30, 2011

Prayer: Peter Claver, S.J.

To love God as God ought to be loved, we must be detached from temporal love. We must love nothing but God, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for God’s sake.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prayer: Hildegard of Bingen

For all eternity the angels will behold God’s fiery splendor. Out of this splendor they will glow like flames.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 2, 2011
Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43

The parables of Jesus keep getting stronger and more chilling. Today we hear about the landowner of a vineyard who leases his land out to tenants before he goes on a journey. When the harvest time comes near, he sends his servant to obtain his produce, but the angry tenants beat him. Others are sent and are beaten, killed or stoned. Finally, the owner sends his son because he reasons the tenants will respect his own flesh and blood. They do not. They kill him, which causes the owner to displace the tenants as custodians of his land and condemn them to a wretched death.
Of course, this is a pre-shadowing story of Jesus and the prophets. God, as owner of the land, puts the Israelites as stewards of his land and kingdom. When they listen to themselves and not to God, prophets are sent to correct the religious leaders and the people, but they do not heed the prophets' words. They kill and discredit many of them because their hearts are hardened. Finally, God's own Son is sent to them and once again, they cannot receive him for they are jealous and angry. Therefore, they kill him. God then takes away stewardship of the kingdom from them and gives it to a people who can care for it better.

Naturally, the elders and chief priests are terribly upset because Jesus offends them for equating them to obstinate stewards who fail to respect God and the prophets. It is the equivalent of telling cardinals and bishops today that they are not proper stewards of the church or of showing a pastor and his pastoral council that their parish is being given to more deserving caretakers. These words are difficult to hear by any religious authority and harsh consequences will, no doubt, be inflicted upon the messenger.
The parable's words are prophetic. God's kingdom expands to include the Gentiles while the leadership of the new way of Jesus is handed over to the Twelve Disciples. Stewardship is transferred from Jerusalem, especially after the fall of the Temple, to Rome. However, Christians are not to rest on their laurels. The same fate can happen to us if we do not respect the owner's servants and his prophets. Even today, we are to discern who is speaking for God and what is God's will.

Fortunately for us, the Spirit of Christ is present within the church to guide us along the way, but we must not harden our hearts to new ways or be presumptuous about our traditions. We are always to seek God's will in the present moment. We are also to listen to God's voice in the cacophony of messages. We are to challenge our paradigms and test out assumptions. Clinging to the past is often not the answer. Conserving what has been long-treasured may cut off the possibilities that God holds out to us. God is always new and fresh. We are to find effective ways today to respond to God's initiatives and invitations, even if it means that we let go of something that has served us well.
Paul nails it when he writes to his Philippian friends: "Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."
If we do these things well, we will know we are serving God as God desires.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: Jonah was ready to flee from the Lord when he was asked to go to Ninevah to preach against it because of their sins. When great winds buffeted their ship, the men on board cast Jonah into the sea as an offering to the angry god. The winds quiet, but a large fish swallowed Jonah where he remained for three days. The Lord spoke to Jonah a second time and Jonah preached repentance to Ninevah. The people and the king heard Jonah's admonition and repented. The Lord changed his mind and Jonah became angry. Jonah did not understand the Lord's new found concern for Ninevah. ~ Malachi writes about those who respect and reverence the Lord and act accordingly in contrast to those who think they serve the Lord. ~ Joel summons the people to rejoice that their day of salvation is near. The day of the Lord is coming. Therefore some will be joyful; others will tremble with gloom. On that mighty day, Jerusalem, the holy mountain, will be exalted.

Gospel: Jesus raises the question, "to whom shall I be neighbor?" in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He then enters the village where Mary and Martha live. They have their spat about which way is the proper way to serve/be with Jesus. As Jesus finishes prayer, one disciples asks him to teach them to pray. He hands over to them the "Our Father." He tells to his disciples a story about a friend who persistently asks a neighboring friend for food for his unexpected guest. The neighbor relents. His point is God is generous to us; we are to persist in prayer and God will give us what we want and need. Jesus takes heat from the crowd who wonder about the source of his authority. They conclude that he must be one of Beelzebul's agents, but Jesus explains that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, he is God's agent. A woman in the crowd cries out, "Blessed is your mother for carrying you in her womb," but he retorts, "Blessed is the one who hears the word of God and responds to it."
Saints of the Week

Monday: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.
Tuesday: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was from the wealthy Bernardone family who sold silk cloths. After serving as soldier as a prisoner of war, Francis chose to serve God and the poor. He felt called to repair God's house, which he thought was a church. His father was angry that he used family money so he disinherited him. He began to preach repentance and recruited others to his way of life. His order is known for poverty, simplicity, humble service, and delighting in creation.

Thursday: Bruno, priest (1030-1101), became a professor at Rheims and diocesan chancellor. He gave up his riches and began to live as a hermit with six other men. They had disdain for the rampant clerical corruption. The bishop of Grenoble have them land in the Chartreuse mountains and they began the first Carthusian monastery. After serving in Rome for a few years, Bruno was given permission to found a second monastery in Calabria.
Friday: Our Lady of the Rosary recalls the events in 1571 of the Christian naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto near Corinth. Victory was credited to Mary as confraternities prayed the rosary for her intercession.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
·         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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Birth Anniversary of the Jesuits

On September 27, 1540, at the Palazzo San Marco in Rome, Pope Paul III signed the Bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae that established the Society of Jesus as a new religious order of the Catholic Church.

Ignatius of Loyola and his companions had made their way to Rome in October 1538, to offer their priestly services to the Pope. As they were about to be dispersed by the various missions given them by the Pope, the question arose as to whether they wished to remain spiritually "one." After prayer and discussion they decided positively, as Christ had brought them together, they felt it was His will they remain united. A charter was proposed to the Pope, which was received favourably and ultimately given solemn approval in this Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae of 1540. The final approval, with the removal of the restriction on the membership number, came in the bull Exposcit debitum of July 21, 1550 issued by Pope Julius III.

Prayer: Thomas Aquinas

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith no explanation is possible. 

Prayer: Camillus de Lellis

Commitment is doing what you said you would do after the feeling you said it in has passed.

Prayer: John XXIII

I am of the same family as Christ - what more could I want?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Question: Angels

Do you believe in angels? I do, but I really only think about them from September (their feast days) through the feast of Christ the King in November. Yes, we read about them in the Nativity story and a few other places in the Gospels, the apocalyptic Book of Revelation, and the Epistles, but the Psalms and the Old Testament have abundant references to them. The question is, "What do we think about the angels?"

We have many cute images of angels, but Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael don't fit that image. Jesus had ideas about angels. I bet his conception is different from our Hallmark- inspired images.

What are your images of angels?

Prayer: Maximilian Kolbe

Keep your conscience pure; be careful not to fall; but if you fall, hasten to rise again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spirituality: Listening

A little girl came home from school with a drawing she had made in class. She danced into the kitchen where her mother was preparing dinner.

"Mom, guess what?" she squealed, waving the drawing.
Her mother never looked up.

"What?" she said, tending to the pots.

"Guess what?" the child repeated, waving the drawing.
"What?" the mother said, tending to the plates.

"Mom, you're not listening."
"Sweetie, yes I am."

"Mom," the child said, "you're not listening with your eyes."

From a Sermon by the Reb, 1958, Mitch Albom "Have a little faith."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

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

Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, But I do not cling.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spirituality: Martin Buber

In the eyes of him who takes his stand in love, and gazes out of it, men [and women] are cut free from their entanglement in bustling activity. Good people and evil, wise and foolish, beautiful and ugly, become successively real to him; that is, set free they step forth in their singleness, and confront him as Thou.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spirituality: From The Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello

I was a neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. And everyone kept telling me to change. And everyone kept telling me how neurotic I was. And I resented them, and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but I just couldn’t bring myself to change, no matter how hard I tried. 

What hurt the most was that my best friend also kept telling me how neurotic I was. He too kept insisting that I change. And I agreed with him too, though I couldn’t bring myself to resent him.

And I felt so powerless and so trapped. Then one day he said to me, “Don’t change. Stay as you are. It really doesn’t matter whether you change or not. I love you just as you are; I cannot help loving you.”

 These words sounded like music to my ears: “Don’t change. Don’t change. Don’t change. I love you.” 

And I relaxed. And I came alive. And, oh wondrous marvel, I changed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 25, 2011
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32

          Last week we heard Isaiah and Jesus telling us that God’s justice is not like human justice. This week Jesus and Ezekiel tell us God does want human fairness and integrity after all. To illustrate this, Jesus presents a story of a man with two sons who are asked to go out into the vineyard and work today. The first son says "no" but later changes his mind and obeys the father's wish; the second son says "of course I'll do it" and never gets around to carrying it out.
          Jesus is equating this story to a religious problem of his day, that of tax collectors and prostitutes being welcomed into the kingdom of God before the religious authorities. The sinners are the ones who originally say "no" because they choose to do what is more conducive to their demands of life; the chief priests and elders say "yes" but their actions do not represent the positive choices they have declared. In other words, their words are actions are far removed from the will of God - even if they are teaching such things in God's name.
          The honesty of the first son is healthy. I admire his freedom. I have often found myself wanting to say "no" immediately but I end up saying "yes." He is honest about not wanting to go into the vineyard to work for his father. He is clear about wanting to do something else instead. There's nothing wrong about saying what you want or don't want, however it does not have to be the last word. People's choices evolve. Perhaps he changes his mind because of his relationship with his dad. Decisions like these are not made in a vacuum. We need time to sift through our deliberations regardless of whether we are introverts or extroverts. We consider the process, relationships, and goals. Tax collectors and prostitutes changed their minds when they heard of the righteousness John the Baptist spoke about; the chief priests and elders, hearing the same words, would not let their hearts be touched.
          We always have to keep out hearts open to life's opportunities. Closing down within ourselves serves no one and never brings a person happiness. Look at the father in this story. He makes the same invitation to both sons and only one is honest with him. The dad makes the same offer and holds out hope that both will accept it, and he allows for free choice to guide their decisions. God does not act by force or coercion and we know from experience that it is better to respond affirmatively to God's invitations because we can trust that God is acting for our well-being, even if we initially don't want what God wants for us. God only wants to give us good things. The more we open ourselves to God's desires, the happier we will be because we will inherit the best things in life.
          Jesus was our best example of someone being open to God's will. Paul encourages us to have the same attitude of Christ who didn't consider being God as something to be grasped because he was content to take on our human condition. Rather, Paul asks us to do nothing out of selfishness (which is not the same as expressing self-interest), but to look out for the interests of others as you would look after your own interests. When we act like the first son who considers the father's request and changes his mind, we put the interests of another before our own. Somehow we can see our choices more clearly and a flip switches on inside of us to guide us to make the right decision. Good things await us when we know what we want and have enough gumption to put our interests aside for another person's needs. We become more like Christ who became more like God.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Zechariah, the Lord declares his envy for Zion. He will return to her and dwell within Jerusalem to be their God. Many people will see Jerusalem's righteousness and fidelity and will be drawn to the city to implore the favor of the Lord. People of every nationality will burn with desire to be near the Lord. In Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes grants his request to take leave to rebuild the holy city in Judah. After mustering financial support, Nehemiah is granted permission. In Baruch, exiles during the Babylonian captivity pray for mercy as they realize how badly they have sinned because they did not heed the voice of God. The Lord addresses his wayward people saying that all the sins they committed against him can be blotted out when they turn ten times the more to God. The Lord will bring them back and give you enduring joy.

Gospel: Jesus settles the argument among the disciples about which of them is the greatest by calling a child to his side and elevating the least among them as the greatest. The disciple John reports that he tries to stop someone from casting out demons in the name of Jesus; Jesus says to let him be. Knowing his last days are coming, Jesus journeys resolutely to Jerusalem. On the way, he stops in a village that will not receive him. He must move on. Along the way someone joins him and says, "I will follow you wherever you go," and Jesus tells them that the Son of Man has no place to rest his head. As more village rejections come, Jesus blasts the inhospitable words of the people. He declares that a fate worse that Sodom and Gomorrah will come upon them. Jesus is greeted with good news as the seventy-two missioned disciples return with reports of many demons exorcised because of his name. Jesus thanks the Father that many people are believing in the will of God.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (d. 287), were twins who became doctors. They were noted because they never charged anyone a medical fee. They died in the Diocletian persecution. Great miracles have been attributed to them and the Emperor Justinian is claimed to be healed through their intercession.

Tuesday: Vincent de Paul, priest (1581-1660), was a French peasant who selected to be chaplain at the Queen's household after his ordination. He provided food and clothing to the poor, including prostitutes, the sick, disabled, and homeless. He founded the Congregation of Missions (Vincentians) to preach and train clergy and he co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

Wednesday: Wenceslaus, martyr (907-929), was raised a Christian by his grandmother while his mother and brother were opposed to Christianity. His brother opposed him when he became ruler of Bohemia in 922. He introduced strict reforms that caused great dissatisfaction among nobles and political adversaries. His brother invited him to a religious ceremony where he was killed in a surprise attack.

Lawrence Ruiz and 15 companion martyrs (seventeenth century), were killed in Nagasaki, Japan during 1633 and 1637. Most of these Christians were friends of the Dominicans. Lawrence, a Filipino, was a husband and father. He and these other missionaries served the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan.

Thursday: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

Friday: Jerome, priest and doctor (342-420), studied Greek and Latin as a young man after his baptism by Pope Liberius. He learned Hebrew when he became a monk and after ordination he studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople. He became secretary to the Pope when he was asked to translate the Bible into Latin.

Saturday: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1873-1897), entered the Carmelites at age 15 and died at age 24 from tuberculosis. During her illness, Pauline, her prioress, asked her to write about her life in the convent. These stories are captured in "The Story of a Soul." He focused on her "little way" of pursuing holiness in everyday life.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
·         Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.
·         Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
·         Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened a college.
·         Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
·         Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
·         Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Question: Communicating through Blinkers

Here is an non-religious dimension question, but one that speaks to the ways in which we communicate. I have often said that the ways we talk with one another are the ways we talk with God. Have you ever done an evaluation of your patterns of communicating?

To bring the sacred into the secular, "Why do so few people use their car blinkers to indicate their intent?" It is a basic, courteous form of communicating, but in the Boston area, few people do it or they signal they are about to turn the moment before they turn. We have picked up bad habits of publicly declaring our intentions.

Take a moment today to assess your patterns of communicating while driving. Do you give sufficient or any notice of what you intend to do? Do you only use your blinkers when another car is around? Do you consider that pedestrians might want to know where you intend to go? When and how do you use your horn? Are you likely to give signals to others as a practice of good communication?

Prayer: Bernardine of Siena

Nothing seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a master who pays well; who rewards even a cup of cold water given for love of him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Prayer: Basil the Great

Through the Holy Spirit, hearts are raised up, the weak are led by the hand, and those who are making progress are perfected.

Prayer: Thomas More

If I am in need of light and prudence in order to discharge my burdensome duties, I draw nigh to my Savior and seek counsel and light from him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Prayer: Anthony of Padua

The heart is the first organ in the human body to be formed. The heart symbolizes humility, for it is in the heart that this virtue has its principal seat: 'Learn from me,' says the Lord, 'for I am gentle and humble of heart.'

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Diocesan Diaconate Ordination

This morning thirteen men were ordained as deacons in the Catholic church in Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral. His Eminence, Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Capuchin was the principal celebrant. Over a dozen already-ordained permanent deacons and over eighty priests witnessed the ordination of these thirteen deacon candidates. A friend of mine, Tim O'Donnell, was one of the newly ordained.

It is an extraordinary vocation that requires extensive formation for both the man and his wife. The order of deacon was resurrected with Vatican II and currently over 200 deacons serve the archdiocese of Boston. One striking feature of the vocation is that the man pledges obedience to his Ordinary Bishop and his successors, which means the bishop is his boss, not the pastor (priest) to whom he is assigned.

In the liturgical ceremony, the candidate is elected by the bishop to which the assembly gives their consent. The candidates are examined as a group by the bishop. In preparation for the ordination, the candidates lie prostrate on the floor before the altar as the congregation prays for them by invoking the Litany of the Saints. The bishop imposes hands upon the candidates and proclaims a solemn prayer of consecration.

The newly ordained are then vested with the diaconal stole (a liturgical sash) and dalmatic (a rounded chasuble) and are presented with the Book of the Gospels. The rite concludes with a Kiss of Peace from the bishop followed by a welcome by their brother deacons. The liturgy then continues with the Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts. The newly ordained participate fully, according to their new order among other ordained ministers.

These are the words of the bishop to the deacon candidate:

Believe what you read
Teach what you believe
Practice what you teach

Prayer: Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

Take care, above all things, not to insult God's boundless loving kindness.

Prayer: Psalm 23:6

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prayer: Sidney Callahan

Mary speaks for all those who have been lowly, on the outside, at the bottom, colonized, suppressed, and totally outside of the halls of the princes and power wielders.

Prayer: Robert Bellarmine

Be wise, my soul, and trust in God alone, cling to God and cast your cares on God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prayer: Hippolytus

Christ, like a skillful physician, understands human weakness. He loves to teach the ignorant, and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2011
Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16

           Isaiah was spot on when he captured the Lord’s words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” His words are helpful to remember as we hear the difficult Gospel parable about the generous landowner’s hiring practices. In the tale, vineyard laborers are hired at various times throughout the day for the same wage. Since we value hard work, we sympathize with the early laborers who, after toiling long and hard under the hot sun, do not get a higher wage or bonus. It seems fair that those who bear the brunt of the work are accordingly rewarded. We want what is fair and just and our social justice efforts arise from these deeply held values. This reading challenges the correctness of our assumptions.

          Jesus is using this story to tell the religious authorities that newer converts to the faith are welcome to receive the everlasting promises, even though they have not kept the Torah or religious observances as they did. Admittance to the faith is based upon belief and the good works that arise from these positions, not past performance, hours worked, or production quotas. Jesus is revealing something peculiar about God – overarching compassion and inclusion for everyone.

          If we dissect the parable, we see important qualities in God’s character. God is continually searching for believers (laborers) to come to the vineyard of abundance and plenty. God’s justice is inclusive. It extends beyond fairness. It is a concrete expression of “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, God wants to provide everyone with an adequate wage to feed their families. Generosity and justice, mercy and compassion are the new order of the day. It creates an environment in which the poor and weak can share in God’s beneficence just like their neighbors who fare better in life. More equitable relationships can be formed and broken bonds can be restored. The former human standards, which are often good and fair to many, no longer cut it because they disenfranchise others. The kingdom of God is a better place to be than the kingdom of humans.

          This parable challenges us to change our line of sight. Instead of looking into the past and glorifying what we have done, we are to look to the future to see the remarkable possibilities for more enhanced human relationships. Ironically, we sometimes do not want to see another do well or to get equal status or recognition, and at the same time, we think we ought to get more notice and honor. We know we are special and we don’t want to be overlooked. The same dynamic occurs with our neighbor. Through God’s example we can discover the unique value of all peoples as they are also invited into the joy of the kingdom.

          Let's remember this is a story to highlight God's character in dealing with us. The emphasis is not focused on in inequitable distribution, but rather God's promised and imminent care of each of us. God wants us to enjoy all we need. It helps us to orient our attention to God as the provider of these wages; it helps us refrain from becoming greedy or acting as the alpha male to take a well-fought place among society. When we turn our attention back to God we become grateful to the one who gives us what we want and need. Our response will never be dissatisfaction; it can only be one of overflowing gratitude.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Ezra, King Cyrus of Persia proclaimed that every person who is willing may go up to Jerusalem to build the house of the Lord and adorn it with jewels. The generosity of neighbors was exceedingly great. King Darius issued an order to let the governor and elders of the Jews continue to work on the house of God - to rebuild it on its former site. The returned exiles celebrated the dedication of this house with joy. Massive numbers of sacrifices were made and priests and Levites were set up in their service of God in Jerusalem as prescribed by the book of Moses. The exiles kept the Passover as was their custom. In the book of the prophet Haggai, Zerubabbel received word that it was not time to rebuild the house. The word came a little later. Haggai said the new house will be of greater splendor than the old. It will contain the glory of the Lord and it will give you peace. In the book of Zechariah, an angel appeared before him to declare that the Lord is like a ring of fire around Jerusalem and that the Lord will soon dwell among them and they will be his people.

Gospel: Jesus urges his people to be like a lamp that does no good being concealed. It must be raised on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. As Jesus speaks, his embarrassed mother and brothers call to him because they want him to stop talking as if he were God. Herod the tetrarch heard about what Jesus was doing and he was greatly perplexed. He inquired about the identity of Jesus. Some answered that he is John raised from the dead or Elijah or one of the ancient prophets. Herod wanted to meet Jesus. Jesus then asks his friends, "Who do the crowds say that I am? Who do you say that I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Christ." Jesus told them that he must suffer, die, and be raised on the third day. Everyone was amazed at every deed of Jesus, but he told them that the Son of Man must be handed over to men. No one understood what he meant.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Januarius, bishop and martyr (d. 305), was bishop of Benevento during his martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. He was arrested when he tried to visit imprisoned Christians. Legend tell us that a vial that contains his blood has been kept in the Naples cathedral since the 15th century liquefies three times a year.

Tuesday: Andrew Kim Taegon, priest, martyr, Paul Hasang, martyr, and companion martyrs (19th century), were Korean martyrs that began to flourish in the early 1800’s. The church leadership was almost entirely lay-run. In 1836, Parisian missionaries secretly entered the country and Christians began to encounter hostility and persecutions. Over 10,000 Christians were killed. Taegon was the first native-born priest while the rest were 101 lay Christians.

Wednesday: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.

Friday: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).
·         Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr. Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.
·         Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
·         Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
·         Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
·         Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
·         Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Poem: The Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Mary stood in sorrow weeping
When her Son was crucified.
While she waited in her anguish,

Seeing Christ in torment languish,
Bitter sorrow pierced her heart.
With what pain and desolation,
With what noble resignation,

Mary watched her dying Son.
Ever-patient in her yearning
Though her tear-filled eyes were burning,
Mary gazed upon her Son.

Who, that sorrow contemplating,
On that passion meditating,
Would not share the Virgin's grief?
Christ she saw, for our salvation,

The Collegeville Hymnal
Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1990.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Prayer: Cardinal Suenens of Belgium

I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit. The story of the Church is a long story, filled with the wonders of the Holy Spirit. Why should we think that God's imagination and love might be exhausted?

Prayer: Thomas Aquinas

We are like children, who stand in need of masters to enlighten us and direct us; and God has provided for this, by appointing angels to be our teachers and guides.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spirituality: A Gift

A retreatant told me a story about a parishioner and her 17 year old daughter. The teen was a bright student who never was in any trouble. She had good friends and lived a healthy lifestyle. One Friday night she decided to go out with other friends who were drinking and partying. As the driver of the car, she was taken into police custody as she was intoxicated while driving. Her mother came to pick her up at the police station and as she drove she unleashed all her anger towards her daughter's behavior. Her daughter had never done anything like this before and they had a good relationship with healthy conversations. When the mother greeted her daughter at the police station, she showed her concern and her anger towards her daughter, but she knew she couldn't have a conversation with someone who was intoxicated.

The girl slept late the next morning and feared going downstairs to face the hostility of her mother. She could smell the bacon cooking and knew that her mother was making breakfast for her. She decided to face her mother even though she felt bad enough about her choices. When the daughter came downstairs, her mother politely greeted her and placed breakfast before her. She also gave her a wrapped gift.

The girl quipped, "What's this for?" Her mother just asked her to open it. The daughter replied, "but I don't deserve a gift." As she opened the box, she saw a large rock inside it. She said, "I don't understand. What's this about?"

Her mother said, "It took 450,000,000 years for God to form this rock. God was steadfast and patient as it came into being. You are only 17 and I will be patient with you for I love you as steadfastly as God loves this rock. My love for you will endure. Please keep this rock in your room to know that my love for you will not erode over the centuries."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spirituality: It is too late

I recently heard a story by a retreatant about Sr. Carolyn, who taught elementary school. She was regarded as one of the best teachers in the school and she liked to teach Second Grade. The principal would send her the difficult students because she had a way of working with them. One day, Jimmy was transferred to her class because he was disruptive in another class. Jimmy was fine for the first few days and then began to act out. On the fifth day, he was particularly agitated and was affecting the entire class. Sr. Carolyn pulled Jimmy into a safe space where she could speak to him. She laid her hands on his shoulders and looked at him squarely in the eyes and said, "Jimmy, It is too late. I already love you."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prayer: John Chrystostom

Belief and faith are proved by works, not by simply saying that one believes, but by real actions, which are kept up, and by a heart burning with love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poem: I Will Not Die an Unlived LIfe

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, promise.

I choose to risk my significance;
to live
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as a blossom,
goes on as fruit.

by Dawna Markova

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NPR Story on Baghdad College

September 7, 2011

To see her NPR's story on Baghdad College, please click on the link below:

audio by NPR.

A school founded by Americans in Iraq before the Saddam Hussein era is an emblem of a time when the United States was known in the Middle East not for military action, but for culture and education. That's the view of Puliter Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, who recently wrote an essay about the school, titled "The American Age, Iraq."

First opened in the 1930s by New England Jesuits, Baghdad College became the Iraqi capital's premier high school. Classes were conducted in English — and the defining feature of the school was not proselytizing, but a rigorous education, Shadid says.

As Shadid tells Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, the school was a symbol of Iraq's identity — which he says was more secular and universal in the middle of the 20th century than it is today.

The school "also represented something for both the United States and for Iraq, and the way that they saw each other," Shadid says, "that they could allow themselves an almost idealistic version of each other. I think that's impossible today, and I say that with a certain sense of sadness."

One reason for that change came in the late 1960s, Shadid says, when Saddam's Baath Party assumed power — and also placed all of Iraq's schools under state control. But international views of America have also changed since those days, he says, noting that the Jesuits ran their school in an era when many people held "a much gentler notion" of Americans' role in the world.

In conducting research for the article, Shadid says, he asked people "where they would mark the end of that kind of era, when that sense of American benevolence gave way to what a lot of people would see as American imperialism."

"Some people put it at the founding of Israel in 1948; some people put it in the Egyptian revolution in 1952," he says. "My own sense in reporting this story was that it was maybe even a little later, with Vietnam, with the change in government in Iraq. But it is clear that that image changed — and I think it changed unalterably, in some ways."

Shadid's essay "The American Age, Iraq" is in the latest issue of Granta, in which the British journal collects stories related to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 11, 2011
Sirach 27:30-28:9; Psalm 103; Romans 14:7-9; Matthew 18:21-35

          Sirach writes, "Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight." These are important words to hear as we remember the September 11th attacks on the United States. Of course, it is right that we experience anger and prudential expression of that anger is warranted. We cannot hold onto it possessively or unleash it with a fury because it doesn't do us or anyone else any good. Anger needs to be expressed so it can lead to forgiveness and reconciliation. It is helpful to remember last Sunday's reading from Romans where Paul writes, "Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law." It is an ideal that we move towards progressively and in stages.

          It is difficult for us to imagine how to progress in this manner because we cannot do it from our own resources. The parable that Jesus tells about the king who decides to settle account with his servants helps us grasp the possibilities for a new way of thinking and acting. Moved with compassion, the good king forgives the debt of his pleading servant who owes him a great deal. Faced with the same situation, the forgiven servant does not forgive a man who owes him a much smaller amount. In fact, he condemns him to prison to the dismay of the king.

          It is extraordinarily difficult to forgive one another unless we first experience the grace of being forgiven. If we scan our memories for these examples we will find many instances of receiving mercy when we did not deserve it. If we review the world and local news each day, we are bound to find astonishing stories of kindness and compassion. Mercy fuels the world. Sometimes we see only the awful things and our brokenness. We find what we seek. If I look at the bad, I see the bad; If I set my eyes on the good, the good comes into focus.

          We begin our path to mercy and reconciliation when we let Jesus save into our memories those times we were forgiven. We can easily recall them to discern our choices in difficult times. It is good to live out of those memories because we recall the pleasant feelings that affirm our inner selves and they help us choose the good and the right. When we act mercifully towards others we let go of the consuming part of anger and we build a world that is more respectful and considerate of neighbors' boundaries. The world does not revolve around our negative judgments and expectations, but our decisions can enliven the poor in spirit around us. One act of mercy leads to the probabilities of many more. This is a world in which I would like to live.

          Our local and international world needs more acts of kindness and mercy - even in the face of hatred. It takes a strong person (or nation) to look evil in the face and still choose compassion and forgiveness. It may go against every fiber in our lives to choose this course, but we can expect the repercussions of these actions will travel far and wide. Every relationship we have benefits from wise and noble responses. We can never undo the damage done to us by another; we can, however, erase the sting from our memories with the soothing, healing, reconciling mercy that comes from a transformed heart. Hearts that seek greater charity will lead us to the world we all want.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul writes to Timothy to assert that there is only one God as there is only one mediator between God and humans. He asks that people live in peace and spirit of thanksgiving for receiving the faith. They are to pray and sanctify one another. The office and qualities of a bishop and his deacons are outlined. They are to be holy, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, sober, gentle, and able to teach the faith. They are to teach what they have heard and known that comes from Jesus Christ and to conform their actions and behaviors to what they teach. A good, gentle teacher will be known for his fidelity to Christ. Paul urges the people to keep the commandments without stain or reproach until Jesus comes again on the Day of the Lord. Church leaders are to signify Christ's presence among the faithful ones.

Gospel: Jesus is amazed at the faith of a Roman centurion who asks him to heal a slave who was important to him. The centurion says all he needs are the words of Jesus, not his presence to save his servant. Jesus grants it. Jesus then journeys to Nain where he raises the dead widow's son to life bringing to mind Elijah's visit to the starving widow and her son centuries before. After Jesus goes from town to town, preaching the good news, he rests with the Twelve and his disciples. Among them are many woman who were cured from evil spirits and infirmities. They rest and spend time with one another as friends spend time together. Afterwards a large crowd gathers around Jesus and he begins to speak of the kingdom in parables. He tells them about the sower who planted seeds on various soils; the fruit that grows best is like the one who hears the word of God, embraces it with a generous and good heart, and bears fruit through perseverance.

Saints of the Week

Monday: The Name of Mary was given to the child in the octave that follow her birth on September 8th. Mary (Miriam) was a popular name for a girl because it means "beloved."

Tuesday: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (347-407) was a gifted homilist and was called "Golden Mouth" because his words inspired many. He was raised in Antioch and joined a community of austere hermits but the lifestyle damaged his health. He became the archbishop of Constantinople where he introduced many conservative and unpopular reforms. He fled to escape an uprising from the people and on the way to exile he died.

Wednesday: The Triumph of the Holy Cross remembers the finding of the true cross by the Emperor Constantine's mother, Helen in early 4th century. Two churches were dedicated in the name of the cross on this day in the 4th century. Therefore, the feast was applied to this day. In the 7th century, the feast was renamed, "The Triumph." The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 was also dedicated on this day.

Thursday: Our Lady of Sorrows was once called the Seven Sorrows of Mary as introduced by the Servite Friars. After suffering during his captivity in France, Pius VII renamed the devotion that encapsulates: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, searching for Jesus at age 12 in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

Friday: Cornelius, pope and martyr (d. 253) and Cyprian, bishop and martyr (200-258) both suffered in the Decian persecutions. Cornelius was being attacked by Novatian, but since Novatian's teachings were condemned, he received the support of the powerful bishop, Cyprian. Cyprian was a brilliant priest and bishop of Carthage who wrote on the unity of the church, the role of bishops, and the sacraments. Cyprian died under Valerius after supporting his church in exile by letters of encouragement.

Saturday: Robert Bellarmine, S.J., bishop and doctor (1542-1621) became a Jesuit professor at the Louvain and then professor of Controversial theology at the Roman College. He wrote "Disputations on the controversies of the Christian faith against the Heretics of this age," which many Protestants appreciated because of its balanced reasoning. He revised the Vulgate bible, wrote catechisms, supervised the Roman College and the Vatican library, and was the pope's theologian.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, the death of Fr. Geoffry Henschen (Henschenius). A man of extraordinary learning, he was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.
·         Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites. Persecution followed in China.
·         Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
·         Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
·         Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
·         Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
·         Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Poem: The Dry Salvages from Four Quartets

The Dry Salvages is a small group of rocks, with a beacon, off the New England coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Salvages is prounced to rhyme with assuages. Eliot, as a boy, spent many summers on Eastern Point with his family in a house across from Niles Beach.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god--sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities--ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the hermit crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

The salt is on the briar rose,

The fog is in the fir trees.

The sea howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices
Often together heard; the whine in the rigging,
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant rote in the granite teeth,
And the wailing warning from the approaching headland
Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner
Rounded homewards, and the seagull:
And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch.
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
The bell.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Poem: "Slow Me Down, Lord" by Wilfred Arlan Peterson

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace.
Give me, amidst the day's confusion
the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tension of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art
of taking minute vacations....
slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me
of the fable of the hare and the tortoise;
that the race is not always to the swift;
that there is more to life than measuring its speed.

Let me look up at the branches of the towering oak
and know that ... it grew slowly ... and well.

Inspire me
to send my own roots down deep...
into the soil of life's endearing values...

That I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Slow me down, Lord.