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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Refrain from multitasking. Do only one thing at a time. Putting yourself wholeheartedly into what you are doing - no matter how small or mundane - honors it ... and you ... and your Creator.

Prayer: Andrew of Crete

It is ourselves that we must spread under Christ's feet, not coats or lifeless branches or shoots of trees. We have clothed ourselves in Christ's grace, so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Remember that longing for simplicity is a spiritual longing. Asking physical things to meet spiritual needs does not work.

Spirituality: A rational explanation for suffering

Jesus did not give us what we really ask: a rational explanation of the existence of suffering, and a demonstration how the terrible waste of human resources which suffering involves really contributes toward human fulfillment. He said that the Son of Man had to suffer; he did not say why. He accepted it and made it the medium of salvation; but he left it mysterious why this is the only means by which the saving act can be accomplished. His own death illustrates better than anything else his principle of not resisting evil. That evil is overcome by non-resistance has been comprehended by very few Christians. These few were convinced that Jesus presented in his words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what he did.

John L. McKensie

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Cultivate the simple virtue of patience. Anticipation is not the only reward for waiting.

Prayer: "Go Down Death" - A Funeral Sermon (from God's Trombones)

(A Negro Spiritual)

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband -- weep no more;
Grief-stricken son -- weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter -- weep no more;
She's only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.
And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death! -- Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hoofs of his horse struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired --
She's weary --
Go down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
On Death rode,
And the foam from his horse was like a comet in the sky;
On Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight on down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And Death began to ride again --
Up beyond the evening star,
Out beyond the morning star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest, take your rest.

Weep not -- weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Passion Sunday

April 1, 2012
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 2; Philippians 2:8-9; Mark 14:1-15:47

                Mark's Passion is the oldest narration of the four Gospels. It contains the most graphic violence because it was the most proximate to the event. As time heals wounds, the other Gospels lose the intensity of the drama. The Jesus portrayed by Mark is the most human. He does not have conscious knowledge that he is God or that he will be redeemed. He goes to his death trusting in a God who remains silent to his cries. Jesus dies alone - even God abandons him. His last words are pleading cries to God: "Why have you forsaken me?" His mission is an apparent failure. He trusts in God, who does not show up for him.

          A major theme of Mark's Gospel is the failure of the closest disciples of Jesus to comprehend that he is the Messiah. The very first words of the Gospel disclose that "this is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." When we encounter the disciples at the beginning, they are full of energy and commitment when they immediately leave their livelihoods to follow Jesus. Yet, as Jesus reveals his identity, the minds and hearts of the disciples get clouded. They are not alone in their hardening of hearts. Many stories reveal lack of faith as a failure to see and understand in contrast with those who come to see him as the Son of God. The Twelve, who should know better, abandon Jesus one by one at the arrest following the Last Supper, and run away. Even Mark, the Gospel author, writes himself into the narrative: he too runs away naked when the guards try to seize and arrest him. Jesus is left to face his tribulations utterly alone.

          However, as the disciples repeatedly fail, certain women remain faithful. A woman seeks out Jesus at the house of Simon the leper before the feast of the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. She pours excessive quantities of costly perfumed oil onto the head of Jesus as a burial anointing. Jesus makes it clear that her act of faith will be remembered by future generations.

          Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary, the mother of James and Joses, watch the crucifixion events from a distance. They are joined by many other faithful women who come up with him to Jerusalem. Their eye-witness is key to show that Jesus really dies and is buried and that they know the place of the burial. They are present when the stone is rolled against the entrance of the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea, another believer, acquires for him. Our faith is based on the reality that Jesus dies and is buried.

          Not all the men are weak in their faith; not all the women abide by Jesus. We remember that the women run away from the empty tomb filled with fear - too afraid to tell anyone. Even their faith has been rocked. At this point, we come to the original ending of Mark's Gospel. Jesus dies; the mission fails; the disciples abandon him; even the women flee in fear. End of story - until we go back to the beginning of the Gospel and understand that much more has happened as we know the secret - this Jesus is the Son of God - just as the Roman centurion, a Gentile, testifies.

          Since Mark's Gospel is a mere 16 chapters, it is worth reading slowly during Holy Week to get a full view of the author's intentions. When one does this, he or she is able to see the important nuances in the Passion narratives. Too often, Christians surface skim the texts to find parallels between the others. To an ordinary reader, the Passion texts are nearly identical, but when you let the details emerge, the Gospels reveal profound insights that create new levels of meaning.

          I set aside half an hour before Mass to read the Passion narrative slowly. I fix my attention on the emotions of each character so I can experience what they may have felt. Mostly, I try to understand what Jesus is feeling. I ask him to tell me as I hold what he says in reverent silence. I simply want to be a friend to him and give him what he needs most in suffering - the experience of sharing his story with a friend. Each year, I am surprised with the deeper emotions he shares with me. I know I can never hold all his pain; I just try to be there with him. I don't know what else to do.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

Monday of Holy Week: We hear from Isaiah 42 in the First Oracle of the Servant of the Lord in which God’s servant will suffer silently, but will bring justice to the world. In the Gospel, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly oil in preparation for his funeral.

Tuesday of Holy Week: In the Second Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 49), he cries out that I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In deep hurt, distress and grief, Jesus tells his closest friends at supper that one of them will betray him and another will deny him three times before the cock crows.

(Spy) Wednesday of Holy Week: In the Third Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 50), the suffering servant does not turn away from the ridicule and torture of his persecutors and tormentors. The time has come.
Matthew’s account shows Judas eating during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Jesus and their good friends after he had already arranged to hand him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. The Son of Man will be handed over by Judas, one of the Twelve, who sets the terms of Jesus’ arrest.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday: Only an evening Mass can be said today and we let our bells ring freely during the Gloria that has been absent all Lent. In Exodus, we hear the laws and customs about eating the Passover meal prior to God’s deliverance of the people through Moses from the Egyptians. Paul tells us of the custom by early Christians that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In John’s Gospel, Jesus loves us to the end giving us a mandate to wash one another’s feet.

Good Friday: No Mass is celebrated today though there may be a service of veneration of the cross and a Stations of the Cross service. In Isaiah, we hear the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord who was wounded for our sins. In Hebrews, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through his faith and thus became the source of salvation for all. The Passion of our Lord is proclaimed from John’s Gospel.

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: No Mass, baptisms, or confirmations can be celebrated before the Vigil to honor the Lord who has been buried in the tomb. The Old Testament readings point to God’s vision of the world and the deliverance of the people from sin and death. All of Scripture points to the coming of the Righteous One who will bring about salvation for all. The Old Testament is relished during the Vigil of the Word as God’s story of salvation is told to us again. The New Testament epistle from Romans tells us that Christ, who was raised from the dead, dies no more. Matthew's Gospel finds Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn arriving at the tomb only to find it empty. After a great earthquake that made the guards tremble, and angel appears telling the women, "Do not be afraid." The angel instructs them to go to the Twelve to tell them, "Jesus has been raised from the dead, and is going before you to Galilee."

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered on the calendar during this solemn week of our Lord's Passion.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.
·         Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·         Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·         Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.
·         Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·         Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.
·         Apr 7, 1541. Ignatius was unanimously elected general, but he declined to accept the results. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Think small. Planting tiny seeds in the small space given to you can change the whole world - or, at the very least, your view of it.

Prayer: Elegy

When I die
if you need to weep
cry for someone
walking in the street beside you.
And when you need me
put your arms around others
and give them
what you need to give me.
You can love me most by letting
hands touch hands
and souls touch souls.
You can love me most by
sharing your joys
and multiplying your generosity to others.
You can love me most
by letting me live in your eyes
and not just in your mind.
Love doesn't die.
People do.
So when all that is left of me is love,
give me away.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lenten Resolve

In your mind, create a 10-second wildflower meadow whenever you need it. Your imagination can be a great peacemaker in times of chaos.

Hot Cross Buns

The Hot Cross Bun is the most famous, and probably the oldest, of the many English buns. Unlike today, when it is to be found throughout Lent, the Hot Cross Bun was originally eaten only on Good Friday. According to tradition, Fr. Rocliff, a monk and cook of St. Alban's Abbey in Hertfordshire, on Good Friday in 1361 gave to each poor person who came to the abbey one of these spiced buns marked with the sign of the cross, along with the usual bowl of soup. The custom was continued and soon spread throughout the country - though no buns could compare, it was said, with Fr. Rocliff's. Hot Cross Buns became enormously popular in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Street cries were commonly heard on Good Friday: "Hot cross busn, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns! If your daughters won't eat them, give them to your sons; but if you have none of those little elves, then you must eat them all yourselves!" Hot Cross buns, and other forms of Good Friday bread, were considered blessed, and were believed to provide powerful protection against disease and danger.

Evelyn Birge Vitz

Poem: My True Love Hath my Heart

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
by just exchange one for the other given.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.

His heart in me keeps me and him in one,
my heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart, for once it was his own;
I cherish his because in me it bides.

His heart his wound received from my sight,
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart
for as from me, on him his hurt did light,
so still me thought in me his hurt did smart.

Both, equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss:
my true love hath my heart, and I have his.

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Strive to have access to things, not ownership of them. Possess something and it possesses you.

Prayer: "The Creation" from God's Trombones

(A Negro Spiritual)

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely --
I'll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That's good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That's good!

Then God himself stepped down --
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas --
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed --
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled --
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,

The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That's good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I'm lonely still.

Then God sat down --
On the side of a hill where he could think;

By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I'll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Learn from life's oldest living things - the trees. They impressively break forth with buds and colors - but know innately when it is time to shut down and be unimpressive.

Prayer: Hildegard of Bingen

Mary, God formed the Word in you as a human being, and therefore you are the jewel that shines most brightly, through whom the Word breathed out the whole of the virtues as once from primary matter God made all creatures.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Know your limits. Nothing is more freeing - or more motivating - than knowing what you can and cannot do well.

Prayer: Elizabeth Ann Seton

Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side. Hope supports it on the other. Experience says it must be, and Love says let it be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Do not let your work and play compete with your time. While each may have its separate place at times, both can also occupy the same space.

Prayer: John XXIII

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homily for Closing Liturgy - Wednesday of 4th Week of Lent

            Your retreat is coming to an end just as we enter into the holiest part of our Christian year. We've had a respite from the labors of Lent as we celebrated three festive days in a row amid weather that is more suited to May than mid-March. The promise of spring helps us look forward to an Easter season in full bloom. We have been graced in the silence of this week. Perhaps you have come to a place of stillness too.

            Jesus makes strong statements in the Gospel to indicate what he and the Father are doing. It is quite a litany of support. He and the Father are one; all power comes from God, he continues to labor for us; he honors, he is the unique revealer of God; he raises the dead and gives life; he judges justly, and greater works are promised for our amazement. Perhaps you were amazed by God this retreat. Maybe God revealed something about God's self or something about you that has been profound. Maybe God showed up and touched some area of your relationship that makes you feel more secure. God promises to stand by your side.

            Maybe Christ spoke to you in a way we must learn to trust. Perhaps, Christ didn't speak words of clarity as we want to hear in human relationships, but we received a message from him that feels right and we can trust. We have to grow in our familiarity with this way of hearing his voice. Christ relates to us uniquely - in a personalized style that differs for each of us. He speaks to the heart of the matter. We find this familiar way in all relationships whether - one of our parents sang us a particular soothing lullaby when we were scared at night, or we had a particular theme song for our wedding or vow ceremony, or private routine or way of relating to a special friendship. We have our rites and customs to bring meaning to those events. Christ does this too. He helps us remember certain people or memories on retreat or arranges coincidences that make us stop and take notice. It sometimes stops us in our tracks and we turn away from our focus upon ourselves to relate more outwardly to other. Cherish those times and trust they are from Christ. They will endure.

            Christ tells us something provocative in the Gospel that can be very comforting. His words, his way of relating, is powerful enough for even the dead to hear. His power penetrates beyond death and we can still know of the ways he speaks to us. This is tremendous. So, fear not, if you are stuck in your prayer and figure that you are in a position where there is something profoundly within you that is blocking his voice from reaching you, know that his power is strong enough to break through to reach you. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle too. Christ will not give up on you and you will be able to recognize and get comfortable with his soft approach towards you. Never give up on the relationship. Trust that he will not stop trying.

            The words of Isaiah are consoling. He speaks in the present tense. He reassures us that God answers our prayers, that he will help us. He restores us to good grace in him and sets us free - from ourselves and whatever holds us captive. He calls us to live as fully, as healthily, and as happily as we can be. Just as a mother cannot forget or show her infant tenderness, he will always remember you.

            Keep your eyes focused on him as we enter Holy Week. The brutality of the events can kick up painful memories, but listen to what he says to you in his most vulnerable moment. He goes to the Cross for you so he can bring meaning into your sufferings and joys. Continue to ask him how he feels - rather than being concerned about what he thinks. Look for those personal ways that he wants to reveal something to you. These messages endure. These messages re-orient your life towards greater charity, compassion, and understanding. Be with him as a companion. Give him what he needs during his moment of trial - a sympathetic gesture, a kindly face - and he will remember your goodness - even beyond death.

Lenten Resolve

Do not take your life so seriously. Trust is a God who cares for your every need.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 25, 2012
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

                Parishes with catechumen who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil celebrate the Third Scrutiny today. (An alternate set of readings for Year A can be used: Ezekiel 37, Romans 8, John 11.)
          The divine plan's final piece is in place for Jesus to be glorified through his Passion when some Greeks come to worship at the Passover feast. They want to see Jesus. The Evangelist John tells us that these Greeks represent the entire Gentile world fulfilling the belief that all peoples will recognize Christ as the world's Light. The Greeks come to Jerusalem because they recognize him as the Messiah. One purpose of Christ's presence in the world was to gather up everyone to himself for the Father. Once this happens, the "hour" of Jesus can begin. The early conversation in the Gospel is awkward. The Greeks approach Philip who brings him to Andrew, a close disciple of Jesus. Together, they bring them to Jesus, but Jesus answers a different question. He realizes his "hour" has finally come when he will be glorified by the Father.

          Jesus realizes that being glorified by the Father means that he will suffer greatly through crucifixion. He does not want to suffer, but accepts it as his fate. The portrait painted of Jesus by John is that he is in full control of the unfolding events. Therefore, Jesus acknowledges that he will die in a cruel way, but he can brace himself up to get through it because it is all part of the divine plan. It would be cowardly for him to ask the Father to take suffering away from him. He is to be lifted up so he can draw everyone to himself.

          Pastorally, the suffering of Jesus in John's Gospel does not help people move through their own trials and tribulations because his humanity is overshadowed by his divinity. Jesus is portrayed as God within a human. He is omniscient and is the eternal Logos and Lady Wisdom incarnate. In this view, he is separate from our suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews gives us a helpful view of his humanity. It simply tells us that Jesus prayed hard and petitioned God with loud cries and tears. In other words, Jesus feared his death as we fear ours; he flinched when faced with pain just as we do. He did not want to die though he concluded that it would be his fate. Because of his reverence, God heard his cries. Jesus learned obedience from his suffering. Because of his faith, those who obey him are saved.

          It is helpful to view Jesus fully as a man as the author of Hebrew describes. If we lose the reality of his humanity in his earthly life, we've lost the point of his mission. Because he was so much like us, we are to imitate his life. He gave us a model for living as full a life as is possible. Therefore, when we struggle, we are to pour out our hearts to God because pain simply hurts. It does no one any good to hold it in. Pain is to be shared. Suffering isolates us and we need to stay connected to the one who hears us and saves us. Especially in our suffering, we want to be seen and known and heard by God.

          Jesus was vindicated because of his fidelity that led him to the unfortunate Cross. His teachings, healings, deeds, and viewpoints were validated by God in the resurrection and are set up as a model for us to emulate. When we read the first reading from Jeremiah in this context, we see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the new covenant. The covenant that was brought about by fidelity to the Law is now replaced with a new knowledge of the Lord. All people shall come to know God through Jesus and will receive the gifts of salvation, which brings about the blotting out of the memory of sins. Jesus will not stop offering his cries and prayers to God until everyone has been restored to God. His mission of gathering up continues until everyone is brought home. Jesus will remain faithful to his mission - because he cannot act otherwise. His "hour" has come. This is truly good news.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:  (Annunciation: The Lord instructed the prophet Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz held his ground and would not tempt the Lord. Isaiah then reported, "the Lord will give you a sign" the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.") In Numbers, the people grumbled that Moses took them out of Egypt and placed them in harm's way in the desert. The people were bitten by snakes; Moses made a bronze serpent and lifted it up so that we stricken people gazed upon it, they would be saved. In Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar sent Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace because they would not worship is god; when the King saw a fourth man standing in the furnace with the three unharmed men, he let them go serve their own god. In Genesis, Abram is renamed Abraham when the covenant was given to him; long life, descendents. and a promised land was their reward. In Jeremiah, the innocent man was tested from terror on every side; the faithful one prevails with the Lord's steadfastness. In Ezekiel, God will take all the children of Israel from all dispersed lands and will make then one nation upon the land; He will be their God and never again will their nation be divided into two kingdoms. They shall have one shepherd and a covenant of peace.

Gospel: Early in John's Gospel, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees of going away to a place where the Jews will not be invited because they cannot see that Jesus is the same as the Father. They remain confused and condemn him. Those who believe in the words of Jesus will know the truth and will be set free. The Jews fail to understand because, as descendents of Abraham, they have never been enslaved to anyone. The Jews speak of Abraham as their Father while Jesus speaks of God as Father. Confusion reigns. Jesus states that his followers will never see death, and the Jews see it as physical death. Jesus confuses them more by telling him Abraham rejoiced to see his day come. Jesus notes that he pre-existed Abraham because he and the Father are one. The Jews want to stone Jesus for blasphemy. Jesus points to his works as proof that they are of the Father. The works testify to their origins. The Jews want to arrest him so Jesus withdraws to the place where John first baptized for protection. Many came to see him and believed in him.

The Pharisees collude with the Sanhedrin and other religious authorities because they fear the influence Jesus has on the multitudes. They decided it was better for one man to die instead of the people so that the whole nation will not perish. They planned to kill him. Jesus no longer walked about in public, but stayed in the desert town of Ephraim. The Sanhedrin waited for him because the Passover was near. They knew he would come to the feast.

Saints of the Week

March 26: The Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the announcement that God chose to unite divinity with humanity at the conception of Jesus. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to inform her of God’s intentions to have her conceive the future Messiah. The boy’s name was to be Jesus – meaning “God saves.” This date falls nine months before Christmas Day.

The Annunciation falls on March 25th unless it is preempted by the Lord's Day or other major feast. It is transferred to the next available day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).
·         March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·         March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.
·         March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.
·         March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.
·         March 30, 1545: At Meliapore, Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle.
·         March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Set your desk, a chair, your sink, your sights, with a view to the great outdoors. Life is simpler out there.

Prayer: Paul of the Cross

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of his ignominies and sufferings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Remember that the primary reward for work is not money, but finding meaning and well-being. If you forget this, you will stop being well.

Prayer: Great Souls

When great souls die, the air becomes light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws
on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.
Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unuterrable
ignorance of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed. We can be.
Be, and be better. For they existed.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Trust that God supplies you with an unlimited amount of "good." There is always enough grain left in the field even after the harvest.

Prayer: "The Third Spiritual Alphabet", by Francisco de Osuna

As happiness lies in the ultimate perfection we all hope for, so there is virtuous, contented rest in having accomplished the purpose for which we begin a good work, and we should not linger in the task by the heart in the promise of satisfaction and joy in the happy conclusion that we trust our God will give to the good work begun.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Retreat Homily for March 17

          We all know that everyone has a claim to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but of the parable of which Jesus spoke, which type of person do you consider yourself to be: The not-so-bad righteous person with a haughty attitude or the public sinner who humbly pleads for mercy? We are in a Catch-22 because we implicate ourselves by choosing one over the other. We may not profess to be righteous, but are we privately thankful that we are not like the rest of humanity who make less savory choices than we do? After all, we are rather decent, law-abiding, religious people. We are far from perfect, and we are not as bad as others we know. Hmmpf. Some of us tend to see ourselves more like the lowly tax collector who is not afraid to speak of our sinful condition and adopts a more desirable type of humility, and yet few of us want make ourselves vulnerable to publicly acknowledge we are sinners. So what is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner, fundamentally loved by God in light of or perhaps because of our sinfulness, and yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius of Loyola was.

          This parable makes me ask two questions: (1.) how does God see us, and (2.) how do we see ourselves? Our task as disciples of Jesus is to learn as God loves us, so it stands to reason that we are to first experience God's radical love for us. We cannot love until we are first loved. I think the first thing we do as we approach prayer is to let God set his face upon us - to warmly look upon us as a loving parent and to cherish who we are and what we have become. God must be astonished at our beauty as we present ourselves in prayer. We accept God's affection and love for us and respond by mutually sharing ourselves back to God in freedom. As we let God love us, we learn to love ourselves more fully, and then we can love others in the same respectful way God loves us. God's love transforms us so that our vocation becomes a sort of brilliance shining forth from Christ. His love fills us and impels us to moves us outwards towards others.

          We may need to examine the ways we see ourselves. The book by C.S. Lewis Till We Have Faces chronicles the lives of two royal sisters - one beautiful and the other envious of her sister's beauty. The one who did not hold remarkable beauty eventually became Queen and spent her life trying to define herself in relationship to her more beautiful sister. She put herself through arduous struggles. She became successful at many endeavors and thought  she could never captivate a man's attention as her sister did. She did all things well and put on masks for her many roles. However, she was admired, respected, and esteemed by everyone, but she could never see her own beauty. Her pursuit of doing the "good" to compensate for her seeming lack of beauty blinded her to her own natural beauty. As she approached her death, she had to learn to remove her many masks and to see herself as God and the people saw her - as a remarkably, good and noble woman, with incredible natural beauty and worthy of receiving the great love many tried to give her. We cannot see God until we have our own face.   

          We hold onto illusions about who we are that affirm us and help us cope. We tell ourselves some narrative that defines us as a person. We look at the "what" we have done instead of the "how" we have done it. We look at what we have accomplished or learned as a measure of our goodness. We say things like, "I'm a good engineer. I'm a savvy business leader. I'm a strong woman. I've made a lot of money" as proof of our good qualities, yet it may be instructive to allow the illusions we hold about ourselves to die. Lay them aside. By stating some quality about us firmly or loudly, we come to believe what we say. Sometimes those affirmative statements are necessary for our good health, but hold onto them lightly. We may need to take off our masks so we can come to know our true self. We will fear the process, but like the end results. Surely it is the way we really want others to know us.

          As we learn from the parable of the righteous and humble, notice that Jesus only pays attention to the underlying attitudes one holds towards God and others. A person who has sincerely lived in right relations to God and others is both a humble and righteous. The Lord tells Hosea the same words the Psalmist sings, "It is love that I desire, not sacrifice." It is time we really learn this important criterion. We can do all things well, but if we do them out of duty, to please others, because we are driven, or we think it is expected of us, then we have not grasped the point. To the one who does all things with love, God will certainly lavish with mercy. Let us offer to God our true selves, as broken as we are, with real faces, and a compassionate care for others. Receive the love God offers you. Your whole life will be filled with the presence of a love that conquers all. 

Lenten Resolve

Find time to be alone. Get to know yourself in the silence. It is a certain way for you to get yourself together.

Prayer: Athanasius

The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach those who suffer. For one who wanted to make a display, the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Jesus, who came to heal and to teach, the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put himself at the disposal of those who needed him.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of Boston.

Patrick is traditionally associated with the Shamrock plant, which he used to explain the concept of the Trinity.

  • St Patrick really existed 
  • Born in Britain (probably in Wales) in 5th century CE 
  • His father, Calpurnius, was a Roman official 
  • St Patrick was originally a pagan, not a Christian 
  • Taken to Ireland as a slave at age 16 
  • Escaped after 6 years 
  • Became a Christian priest, and later a Bishop 
  • Returned to Ireland as a missionary 
  • Played a major part in converting the Irish to Christianity 
  • Some of his writings survive, the "Confessio", and the Letter to Coroticus 

Doubtful Facts 
  • Born in 387 CE at Banwen in Wales 
  • His original name was Maewyn Succat, he became Patrick when he became a bishop 
  • Studied in France at the monastery of St Martin's in Tours 
  • Went to Ireland in 432 CE 
  • Died either in 461 CE, or 493 CE (unlikely) 
  • Taught by Saint Germaine 

Patrick's Early Life

Patrick’s family lived on a small estate near the village of Bannavem Taburniae. (This name cannot be placed on any current map of England or Wales.) Although his father was a deacon, Patrick was not a believer: "I did not, indeed, know the true God."

In his teens, Patrick was captured by a gang of Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. Patrick came to believe that this was a punishment for his lack of faith. He was put to work for six years herding sheep and pigs on Slemish mountain in County Antrim. While he was a shepherd, Patrick spent much of his time praying.

"I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time."

In an escape bid while he was a captive in Ireland, Patrick stowed away on a boat bound for Britain, and it landed not far from where his parents lived. Patrick decided to become a priest, and after a dream he was inspired to return to Ireland.

"I seemed to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: 'We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us."

Patrick spent several years studying before he felt ready to take up the life of a missionary. Patrick eventually returned to Ireland, as the country's second bishop and brought the message of Christ to many people who had never heard it. As a missionary Patrick baptised many thousands of people. It was not an easy task. Patrick tells how his life was at risk, and how he was sometimes imprisoned by the local pagan chiefs. We know that Patrick sometimes made things easier by giving gifts to the chiefs.

Poignantly, Patrick also writes of his longing to leave Ireland. "How I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit." He knew his duty was to remain in Ireland.

Patrick had problems not only with himself, and the local pagans, but suffered from some backbiting by fellow clergy who accused him of seeking to win personal status. The claim nearly broke his heart, but anyone who reads his Confessio will soon realise that Patrick was the last person to think that he deserved any glory for himself.

"I ought unceasingly to give thanks to God who often pardoned my folly and my carelessness, and on more than one occasion spared His great wrath on me, who was chosen to be His helper and who was slow to do as was shown me and as the Spirit suggested."

Patrick clearly perceived Ireland and Britain to be far apart, but he also perceived Britain and Gaul to be very close. Seeing the world like that is as much a matter of theology as geography. Jerusalem was believed to be the center of the world and around Jerusalem were countries which were occupied by the Romans. On one particular far-flung corner was the island of Ireland - the last bastion of paganism as Patrick saw it.

Patrick not only knew the language of his British parents but studied and understood Latin. He was well read in both secular writing and the Scriptures. Patrick had to speak Irish to communicate with the people.

Patrick believed that when "every nation" had heard the gospel, Christ would then return, and it seems he believed that he was the person to bring this message of Christianity to the land that represented this "final hurdle" of God's plan.

In Ireland, probably towards the end of his life, Bishop Patrick wrote about his life and work in the "Confessio". He begins: "I am the sinner Patrick. I am the most unsophisticated of people, the least of Christians, and for many people I am the most contemptible. . .

I was taken into captivity in Ireland - at that time I was ignorant of the true God - along with many thousand others.

This was our punishment for departing from God, abandoning his commandments, and ignoring our priests who kept on warning us about our salvation. . . "

Patrick was British. When he was a child, raiders from Ireland came and took him from Britain. In Ireland, he was sold as a slave, and spent about six years tending sheep and pigs around Slemish (a mountain formed from the plug of an extinct volcano just outside Ballymena in what is now County Antrim.) As a stowaway, he returned to his parents, but felt called by God to return to preach to the people of Ireland.

Did St Patrick bring Christianity to Ireland? Probably not. There's good evidence that there were believers in Ireland before Patrick arrived. Pope Celestine had sent Palladius to that part of the world years before. Anyway, it would be unlikely that a country with such strong trading links with the Roman Empire would have remained untouched by Christianity.

Did St Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland? No he didn't, because it's unlikely there ever were any snakes in Ireland. The snake may be a reference to the serpent, a symbol of evil, and the driving out a reference to Patrick’s mission to rid Ireland of pagan influence.

Lenten Resolve

Silence is golden. Seek it. Listen to it. Be still within it. It will quietly enrich your life.

Prayer: Thomas Aquinas

The sacrament of the body of the Lord
puts the demons to flight,
defends us against the incentives to vice,
cleanses the soul from sin.
quiets the anger of God,
enlightens the understanding to know God,
inflames the will and the affections with the love of God,
fills the memory with spiritual sweetness,
confirms the entire person in good,
frees us from eternal death,
multiplies the merits of a good life,
leads us to our everlasting home,
and reanimates the body to eternal life.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Try to eat and live lower on the food and resources chain. You will do yourself a lot of good. You will also do a world of good to those beings yet unborn.

Prayer: Patrick

Whatever will come my way, whether good or bad, may I accept it calmly, and always give thanks to God, who has ever shown me how I should believe in God, unfailing and without end.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Be small and child-like. You will find no simpler, better way to see the big picture.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

   March 18, 2012
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
          Parishes with catechumen who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil celebrate the Second Scrutiny today. (An alternate set of readings for Year A can be used: 1 Samuel 16, Ephesians 5, John 9.)
          The book of Second Chronicles gives a commentary on Israel's national status as a disobedient people. Because of their excessive infidelity and their defilement of the Lord's temple in Jerusalem, they are sent into exile to Babylon where they became servants of the Chaldeans. The walls of Jerusalem are torn down, the house of God is burned, all the palaces are set afire, and all precious objects are destroyed. The people remain in exile (in modern day Iraq) for seventy years until King Cyrus of Persia (modern day Iran) set them free. Cyrus hears the words of Jeremiah who tells them the Lord asks that a house be built for him again in Jerusalem by the captive Israelites who are to resettle their once-forsaken land. The sweeping history lesson shows that the Lord will raise up his people after their period of purification.

          Paul's Letter to the Ephesians also gives the eagle eye's view of salvation history. He tells us God will bring us to life with Christ, not because of any good words we have done, but because of his great and generous love. Like the ancient Israelites, our transgressions kill us, but God saves us through grace through the gift of faith. We are not to boast for our good fortune because the initiative rests entirely with God. The good works are do are a result of our faith. They show to the world that we are friends with God and we do these good works as a response to God's special care of us.

          The theme of being "lifted up" appears again in the Gospel. Jesus tells the inquiring Nicodemus that Moses lifted up the serpent so that all who gaze on it will have life - even if bitten by a venomous snake. Likewise, God will "lift up" on the cross Jesus, the Son of Man, so that believers will have eternal life by gazing upon him and coming to belief. The moral of the story is the same one: Because of God's great love for his people, he will continue to raise up those he loves. God has always done this and will continue to do it because God's love is stronger than life itself. God remains steadfast, even though we falter.
          With stories of God's constant offer of abundant love throughout scripture, it is awkward to hear so many church-going people remark that they are afraid of God and that their notion of God is as a strict, unforgiving judge. Any reading of scripture will present a contrary perception. It strikes me that two factors may be at work. First, a person with a poor self-image will have a poor image of God. The person's interaction with authority may not be at its healthiest. Second, a person may not be developing his or her relationship with God - whether in prayer or through one's understanding of Scripture. A person who earnestly evaluates his or her relationship with God will arrive at an understanding that God desires the best for every person. God communicates in tender, gentle ways. Unconditional love and steadfast solidarity are essential aspects of God's message. History repeatedly tells us this; History is our story of collective experiences.

          The Gospel tells us of the unhappy situation with human experience. Many will recoil when they see the light of goodness. They are afraid that their choices will not measure up to the goodness of God and of the righteous ones and they reject this offer rather than being exposed. They think this exposure will bring about rejection and condemnation. They are unable to see that God brings life and abundant goodness, not harsh exacting judgment. Our part in helping others come to know the true nature of God is to let others see our happiness in living in the goodness of God. We treat everything as gift and we imitate God's righteousness. Everyone marvels at the one who is truly loved and freely returns that love in response. People are joyous when they see the effect love has upon them. Love always moves outwards.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:  An angel brought the prophet Ezekiel to the Temple where water flowed forth from the sanctuary. This water brought new life wherever it flowed. In Isaiah, the Lord tells the people all the ways he will honor the covenant – caring for the lowly and needy, restoring fortunes, and providing good health and long life for the Lord will remember his children as a mother will always remember hers. In Exodus, when the Lord tells Moses that he will wipe out the people for they have become stiff-necked, Moses interceded for them and asks the Lord for mercy. In Wisdom, wicked persons decide to attack the righteous ones who make them feel worse than they are. They will deride and chastise him because he is a son of God. Jeremiah also knows of the plots against him. Like a trusting silent lamb, he is led into the hands of those who will destroy him.

Gospel: Jesus comes to a man at a pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem who was ill for 38 years. The man could not insert himself into the pool and he had no one to help him get in. Jesus made the man get up, take up his mat, and walk - which violated Jewish custom. After Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd and an equal to God, the Jews look for a way to do him in. He gives testimony about his good works that can only come from the Father. He does his works for the glory of his Father, not for human praise. Jesus moves throughout Galilee speaking openly about the kingdom. He says that he comes from the Father who sent him to do good works. The authorities debate his origin because the Messiah will not come from Galilee. He is supposed to come from David's family. No one could arrest him because they have never heard anyone speak in such a manner before. Nicodemus comes to the defense of Jesus, but the leaders remain divided.

Saints of the Week

March 19: Joseph, husband of Mary is honored today for his support of Mary in their marriage. He is portrayed as a righteous man who obeys the will of God. Therefore, his ancestry is upheld as a virtuous stock through which God’s promises come true. We seldom contemplate his marital relationship to Mary and his responsibility to love and raise Jesus as his son. He was a descendent of King David and a carpenter or builder by trade. In Matthew's dream sequence, Joseph was embarrassed by Mary's pregnancy before their marriage, but went through with the wedding because he was a righteous man. He considered dissolving their marriage because of Mosaic Law, but is told in a dream to take Mary as his wife and to raise Jesus as his own. He is honored as the earthly father of Jesus.

March 23: Toribio of Mogrovejo, bishop (1538-1606) was a Spanish law professor in Salamanca who became the president of the Inquisition in Granada. As a layman, he was made the Archbishop of Lima, Peru and became quickly disturbed at the treatment of the native populations by the European conquerors. He condemned abuses and founded schools to educate the oppressed natives. He built hospitals and churches and opened the first seminary in Latin America.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Mar 18, 1541. Two letters arrived from Lisbon from Francis Xavier. One was addressed to Ignatius, the other to Frs. LeJay and Laynez. They were written just before his departure to India.
·         Mar 19, 1836. By imperial decree, the Society was allowed to re-enter the Austrian dominions.
·         Mar 20, 1602. The first "Disputatio de Auxiliis" was held before Clement VIII. The disputants were Fr. Gregory de Valentia SJ and Fr. Diego Alvarez OP.
·         Mar 21, 1768. In Spain, at a special meeting of the Council of State in the presence of King Charles III, the Suppression of the Society was urged on the pretense that it was independent of the bishops, that it plotted against the State, and that it was lax in its teaching.
·         March 22, 1585: In Rome, the three Japanese ambassadors were received by Fr. General with great solemnity in the Society's Church of the Gesu.
·         March 23, 1772: At Rome, Cardinal Marefoschi held a visitation of the Irish College and accused the Jesuits of mismanagement. They were removed by him from the direction of that establishment.
·         March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rodolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions were Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Let manual labor, hard work, be a part of your life. Feel productive. You will be proud of how humble it makes you feel.

Prayer: "The Ascent of Mount Carmel" by John of the Cross

We can apply...what Christ says about the narrow gate to the sensitive part of the human person, and what he says about the constricting way to the spiritual or rational part. Since he proclaims that few find it, we ought to note the cause: Few there are with the knowledge and desire to enter into this supreme nakedness and emptiness of spirit. As this path on the high mount of perfection is narrow and steep, it demands travelers who are neither weighed down by the lower part of their nature nor burdened in the higher part. This is a venture in which God alone is sought and gained; thus only God ought to be sought and gained.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Learn to value spiritual things over material ones. They endure. They cost less and bring greater value.

Prayer: Clare of Assisi

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Make deliberate choices throughout the day. Actively choose what you will wear, eat, read, hear, see. Live intentionally. If you do not make choices, others will make them for you. Live will be lived for you.

Prayer: "Many Mansions" by Pascaline Coff, OSB

Mindful now of our own rich tradition of meditation and contemplative prayer and eager to learn what is true and holy in other religions, the time is right for us to learn from one another, from whatever culture and religion, all that is helpful in moving toward a simpler life, a deeper life, and a more authentic life in which the inner experience of God is primary and energizing and centering.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lenten Resolve

There's the right time for "doing" and a right time for "doing nothing." Do not underestimate wasting time. Savor the times when you can sit on the porch or rock in a chair. Daydream. These are simple gifts you can give to yourself and to others.

Spirituality: Gerald May's "Addiction and Grace"

There is a strange sadness in growing freedom. Our soul may have been scarred by the chains with which our addictions have bound us, but at least they were familiar chains. We were used to them. And as they loosen, we are likely to feel a vague sense of loss. The things to which we were addicted may still be with us, but we no longer give them the ultimate importance we once did. We are like caged animals beginning to experience freedom, and there is something we miss about the cage.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Practice being content. It is both the work and the reward of a lifetime well spent.

Prayer: Bernard of Clairvaux

Righteousness is the natural and essential food of the soul, which can no more be satisfied by earthly treasures than the hunger of the body can be satisfied by air… It is foolish to imagine that the soul can be satisfied with worldly things, which only inflate it without feeding it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Live in the present time. Rushing to get one thing over so you can move onto something "more important" is folly. Enjoy what you are doing. Suspend your need to accomplish. Savor the task you finished.

Prayer: Clement of Alexandria

Even if we whisper without opening the lips, even if we call to God only from the depths of the heart, our unspoken word always reaches God and God always hears. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Do not pretend to be anyone or anything you are not. This way, you can always be consistent and truly free.

Third Sunday in Lent

March 11, 2012
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

                Parishes with catechumen who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil celebrate the First Scrutiny today. (An alternate set of readings for Year A can be used: Exodus 17, Romans 5, John 4.)
          Paul's bold proclamation in 1st Corinthians ties the Exodus reading together with John's Gospel reading to make sense of the peculiar aspects of our faith. He describes that the Jews expect unmistakable revelations from God like earthquakes, thunder, and dramatic dreams, while the Greeks rely upon their pursuit of wisdom and rationality to discern patterns of knowledge in the world. Paul, however, says that we Christians appear ridiculous to both the Jews who see us as stumbling blocks and to the Gentiles who regard us as foolish because we preach that our God is a crucified one. Christ is both the power and the wisdom of God and can be worshiped by both Jews and Gentiles. The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than our human strength.
          The Exodus reading begins with God reminding the Israelites that he brought them out of slavery into freedom. Because of that, he asks that they place no other gods, especially hand-made graven images, before him. The commandments place stresses on the first three because they reflect the people's response to God's. I took notice of the third commandment, keeping holy the Sabbath, as many words are given to its importance. Many in society have lost the sense of the Sabbath being a special day reserved for remembrance, thanksgiving, and recreation. For me, it is a time in which I catch up on the activities of the week that I didn't quite get done. This reading makes me consider how poorly or well I use my time. The last seven commandments, while important, deal with the manner by which we respect the rights and privacy of others.

          The evangelist John places the scene where Jesus drives the merchants out of the Temple at the very start of the Gospel. John means to illustrate the role Jesus assumes in the Passover once the Temple has been destroyed. For a Jew, the Temple meant everything and its destruction in 70 A.D. looms in their national consciousness. The Christian community led by John is facing additional displacement. Their Jewish brothers and sisters will not let them worship in their synagogues. John's community are like refugees who have no gathering place. The entire point of this passage is to let Christians know that the Passover can only rightly be celebrated in and through the person of Jesus.

          As a man who always preached the kingdom of God is among us, his worldview conflicted with those dedicated to the Temple. The kingdom of God can be celebrated wherever two or more are gathered in his name because he is present to them. Buildings and locations no longer essentially matter, though they are useful for ritualizing our worship. He means to communicate the Jesus is no more present in a building than outside of it.

          The last sentences of this passage are disturbing. While many began to believe in Jesus because of the signs he was doing during the Passover feast, "he would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well." It tells us that "the hour" of Jesus had not yet arrived and that he knew he was the light in the darkness who would be rejected. It shows us that he understood human capacity for fickle judgment, and it was the reason he came.

          When we contemplate how much Christ has done for us, it is staggering. He saves us from despair and gives us hope in our darkest hours. I always like to turn around the questions that St. Ignatius once asked Christ on the Cross. Instead of asking: What have I done for Christ, What am I doing for Christ, and What am I to do for Christ, I ask: What has Christ done for me, What is Christ doing for me, and What will Christ do for me. I become silent in gratitude. I praise the Crucified Christ and the wisdom of God.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:  In 2 Kings, Namaan, the army commander of king Aram, contracts leprosy and is sent to the king of Israel for a cure. Elisha intercepts him and instructs Namaan to wash seven times in the Jordan River. After protesting, he decides to wash. When he is cleansed, he proclaims "there is no God in all the earth except in Israel." In Daniel, Azariah contends with the Lord imploring him to remember the covenant and his promise of mercy. He calls for deliverance for the people are without hope. In Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the people urging them to follow the commandments the Lord gave to them for they bring life, prosperity, and happiness. If they stray from the path, they will undergo trials they do not want or expect. Jeremiah tells the people they will prosper if they do what the Lord commands. They do not listen to Lord's word for their hearts became hardened. Hosea hears from the Lord that he will heal their defections and once more bring them back into the fold. The people are to seek wisdom to understand what the Lord asks of them. Hosea asks the people to return to the Lord for in the deepest part of the Lord's heart, he cares deeply for his people.

Gospel: In Luke, Jesus tells the people that a prophet is rejected in his hometown. He told them that Elisha the prophet was not sent to lepers in Israel, but to Namaan the Syrian. When Jesus is asked about the extensive nature of his teaching on forgiveness, the tells them to parable of the king who settles his accounts with his servants. As the king forgives debts, the people are to imitate him. In this case, a forgiven servant beats up on another servant who owes him a debt. Jesus tells them that he has not come to abolish the law or the prophets but to bring them to fulfillment. When he drives out a demon from a mute man, his adversaries accuse him to getting his power from Beelzebul. He says that as he is working against Beelzebul, he certainly cannot be invoking his power because a divided house cannot stand. One on the scribes then approaches Jesus to ask which is the first of all the commandments. After he replies correctly, Jesus affirms him and tells him he is not far from the kingdom of heaven. Jesus then addressed a parable to those who were assured of their righteousness. He told them of the Pharisee and the publican. The latter understand what it meant to be remorseful and to depend on God.

Saints of the Week

March 17: Patrick, bishop (389-461), is the revered Apostle of Ireland and patron saint of many U.S. dioceses. He is credited for bringing the faith to all of Ireland. He was abducted and enslaved at age 16 by pirates and taken to Ireland where he worked as a cattle herded and shepherd in the mountains. He escaped after six years and eventually returned to his native Britain where he became a priest. Pope Celestine sent Patrick as a missionary to Ireland to evangelize them. Though he was under constant risk from hostile pagans, he converted many of them and developed a native clergy by the time of his death.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Mar 11, 1848. In Naples, Italy, during the 1848 revolution, 114 Jesuits, after much suffering, were put into carts and driven ignominiously out of the city and the kingdom.
·         Mar 12, 1622. Pope Gregory XV canonized Sts Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri.
·         Mar 13, 1568. John Segura and five companions set sail from Spain for Florida, a fertile field of martyrs. (Nine Jesuits were killed there between 1566 and 1571.)
·         Mar 14, 1535. Ignatius received his degree from the University of Paris.
·         Mar 15, 1632. The death of Diego Ruiz, a great theologian, who studied on his knees.
·         Mar 16, 1649. The martyrdom in Canada of St John de Brebeuf, apostle to the Huron Indians. Captured by the Iroquois along with some Christian Hurons, he endured horrible tortures.
·         Mar 17, 1964. The death of Joseph O'Callahan. He was awarded the US Medal of Honor for heroism as chaplain on the USS Franklin, off Japan on March 19, 1945.