Daily Email

Thursday, May 31, 2012

GC 31, Religious Life

Since the goal to which the Society directly tends is "to help our own souls and the souls of our neighbors to attain the ultimate end for which they were created," it is necessary that our life - of priests as well as scholastics and brotherss - be undividedly apostolic and religious. This intimate connection between the religious and apostolic aspects in the Society ought to animate our whole way of living, praying, and working, and impress on it an apostolic character.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Trinity Sunday

June 3, 2012
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20

                Moses reminds the people of God's benevolent and caring relationship with them by pointing to the marvels of creation, the promise to make the Israelites a chosen people, by speaking to them in a burning, but unconsumed bush, and by delivering them from the oppression of a strong and fierce nation. Moses says, "You must know and fix in your heart that the Lord is God in the heavens above us and on earth below and that there is no other." In a Mediterranean culture where other cultures worship multiple gods with dominion over certain spheres of life, Moses instructs the people that the god of the Israelites is One. No other god can coexist with the Lord God and no other god has quite the same personal relationship with humans as our God does, but while God is One, certain aspects of God' personality can reveal something new and distinct.

          Paul emphasizes the close personal relationship that God has with us in Romans 8 when he writes that those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. God wants to bring us closer into the divine family so we can cry out the same words Jesus did, "Abba, Father!" We can turn to God when we most need help or simply to ask for what we need and want. We become God's protected children who receive special graces because we have been ready to suffer with God's own Son.

          I witnessed the special bonding of family at my mothers' 80th birthday party the other day. First, we experienced the happiness of being with one another merely because we have something in common. Second, something larger than us was happening around us. We came to show honor to my mother for giving us life as hers is creeping closer to its natural end. Third, we easily provided hospitality and welcomed others into the household. Fourth, we made alive our deceased ones and absent brethren (because of work or distance) through our memories, sharing of stories, or our display of compassion to one another. Fifth, we marveled at the ways we introduced ourselves with the multiplicity of roles and relationships. It is not easy to sort out all relationships, but it became abundantly clear that Holy Spirit was at work bringing us together in a way that has not been done before.

          I marveled at the ways we related to one another because roles and relationships are complex. While my sister is my sister, she is also daughter, mother, niece, in-law, friend, aunt, and wife. This in itself is a mystery. The important aspect is that we are continually in relationship with others and we have to continue to build and nourish those relationships. The Trinitarian God is such because Father and Son through their Spirit relate to each other with and for us. Each of these relationships are meant to be strengthened, and we become happy when we relate easily to each aspects of God. We experience fullness.

          It was easy for me to imagine God's happy family when I was at my mother's party. Each Sunday, God gathers us together because something larger is going on around us. God delights in us and wants us to relate to one another in the complexity of our relationships. They give us a good model for doing so. I can't imagine God is happy with the divisive factions and the terrible splits that are occurring in his family because of our terrible actions and attitudes. I would think God wants us to come together to focus upon how God provides for us and nourishes us. The special bonding the Trinitarian God has with us is an example of the way we are to bond with other family members. We actually can experience joy in belonging to God's family.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Peter continues to encourage his disciples to remain in the knowledge of God by building up one's faith with virtue, built on knowledge, gained by self-control, achieved through endurance, that comes from devotion, experienced through mutual affection, that derives from love. He asks us to wait for the Lord's day by remaining without blemish and by being at peace. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, asks us to remain in the Spirit of Christ that is evident in the power of love and self-control. He also asks them to bear with one another patiently so they present no factions to the outside world. These factions serve no positive purpose. Paul explains that understanding Scripture is useful for righteousness, but to be aware that everyone who wants to live religiously will be persecuted. Lastly, he tells them to proclaim the word: be persistent, convince, reprimand, encourage through patience and teaching.

Gospel: In Mark, Jesus tells a story to the chief priests and scribes about a landowner who leases his property to those with selfish desires. They kill the first servants and the landowner finally sends his son. To everyone's horror, they kill him too. The moral: the one rejected by the chief priests will become the cornerstone of faith. Herodians question Jesus about a person's responsibility to pay a census tax to Caesar; Jesus does not get twisted into their story and demands that everyone respect the earthly leader and God at the same time. Sadducees ask about property rights when a widow has seven husbands and reaches heaven. Jesus reminds them there is no marrying in heaven and God is not of the dead, but of the living. A scribe asks Jesus about the greatest commandment and answers correctly. Jesus praises his well-thought and honest answer. He reminds the people not to be like the scribes who receive public praise and do things that are not admirable. Be more like the poor widow who puts in her two cents into the treasury.

Saints of the Week

June 3: Charles Lwanga and 22 companion martyrs from Uganda (18660-1886) felt the wrath of King Mwanga after Lwanga and the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) censured him for his cruelty and immorality. The King determined to rid his kingdom of Christians. He persecuted over 100 Christians, but upon their death new converts joined the church.

June 5: Boniface, bishop and martyr (675-754), was born in England and raised in a Benedictine monastery. He became a good preacher and was sent to the northern Netherlands as a missionary. Pope Gregory gave him the name Boniface with an edict to preach to non-Christians. We was made a bishop in Germany and gained many converts when he cut down the famed Oak of Thor and garnered no bad fortune by the Norse gods. Many years later he was killed by non-Christians when he was preparing to confirm many converts. The church referred to him as the "Apostle of Germany."

June 6: Norbert, bishop (1080-1134), a German, became a priest after a near-death experience. He became an itinerant preacher in northern France and established a community founded on strict asceticism. They became the Norbertines and defended the rights of the church against secular authorities.

June 9: Ephrem, deacon and doctor (306-373), was born in the area that is now Iraq. He was ordained a deacon and refused priestly ordination. After Persians conquered his home town, Ephrem lived in seclusion where he wrote scriptural commentaries and hymns. He was the first to introduce hymns into public worship.

June 9: Joseph de Anchieta, S.J., priest (1534-1597), was from the Canary Islands and became a leading missionary to Brazil. He was one of the founders of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero. He is considered the first Brazilian writer and is regarded as a considerate evangelizer of the native Brazilian population. Alongside the Jesuit Manuel de Nobrega, he created stable colonial establishments in the new country.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jun 3, 1559. A residence at Frascati, outside of Rome, was purchased for the fathers and brothers of the Roman College.
·         Jun 4, 1667. The death in Rome of Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini, a man of great knowledge and humility. While he was Prefect of Studies of the Roman College he wrote his great work, The History of the Council of Trent.
·         Jun 5, 1546. Paul III, in the document Exponi Nobis, empowered the Society to admit coadjutors, both spiritual and temporal.
·         Jun 6, 1610. At the funeral of Henry IV in Paris, two priests preaching in the Churches of St Eustace and St Gervase denounced the Jesuits as accomplices in his death. This was due primarily to the book De Rege of Father Mariana.
·         Jun 7, 1556. Peter Canisius becomes the first provincial superior of the newly constituted Province of Upper Germany.
·         Jun 8, 1889. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins died at the age of 44 in Dublin. His final words were "I am so happy, so happy." He had written "I wish that my pieces could at some time become known but in some spontaneous way ... and without my forcing."
·         Jun 9, 1597. The death of Blessed Jose de Ancieta, Brazil's most famous missionary and the founder of the cities of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GC 32, Decree 2

Our Society was founded principally for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the rendering of any service in the church that may be for the glory of God and the common good. In fact, the grace of Christ that enables and impels us to seek "the salvation and perfection of souls" - what might be called, in contemporary terms, the total and integral liberation of the human person, leading to participation in the life of God himself - is the same grace by which we are enabled and impelled to seek "our own salvation and perfection."

A Jesuit, therefore, is essentially, a man on a mission: a mission which he receives immediately from the Holy Father and from his own religious superiors, but ultimately from Christ himself, the one sent by the Father. It is by being sent that the Jesuit becomes a companion of Jesus.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Prayer: Lebanese Blessing

May love be the gardener of your years 
bringing forth from your grounding in God
a harvest of wholeness and peace,
a bounty of courage and compassion.

May your soul tower with the strength of cedars;
your heart pound with the power of the sea.

May joy rise in you like the mountains
and may it be a blessing you share with those you love,
who this day make merry
that is your the great love of God
has found a home on earth.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Prayer: Therese of Lisieux

True charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbors, in not being surprised at their failings, and in being edified by their least virtues. Charity ought to enlighten and make joyful not only those who are dearest to me, but all who are in the house. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poem: Peter Seeger, 1970's Songwriter

“One blue sky above us,
One ocean lapping all our shores,
One earth so green and round,
Who could ask for more?
And because I love you,
I’ll give it one more try
To show my Rainbow Race
It’s too soon to die.”

“Go tell, go tell all - - - - - the little children.
Tell all their mothers and fathers, too - -
Now’s our last chance to learn to share
What’s been given to me and you.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pentecost Sunday

May 27, 2012
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 (or Galatians 5:16-25); John 20:19-23

                John's Gospel presents an entirely different image of Pentecost than we are used to hearing. While the Acts of the Apostles shows the disciples gathered together in prayer as they await the coming of the Spirit, Jesus is the one who sends the Spirit on Easter night in the Fourth Gospel. John does away with the confusion of the Ascension and the awkward interim time of the bodily appearances of the Risen Jesus. Instead, the Resurrection is the central and final event. All divine events are contained firmly within the person of Jesus who is Lord of all.

          John's account of Pentecost gives it a unique power to dispel any fear the disciples hold. It fills their places of fear with confidence in the Lord so that fear and anxiety have no room for a believer. It brings about a secure peace that gives the disciples boldness to act without regard for the constraints of human law, but it creates a respectful responsibility to the surrounding culture. Most radically, Pentecost gives the believers power to bind and loose sins of others. This is a double action. We focus upon binding much more than loosening, but it is in the loosening where we allow for freedom and growth. The Church, especially its leaders, can help others when it learns how to let go.

          A major emphasis of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles is the unifying action of God's Spirit. It brings together people of every region and language. The Spirit's language unites the hearts and minds of the holy believing community. It is not bound by any limitations. The frontiers of faith are opened widely. Jews, Arabs, Cretans, and converts converse easily with one another because the divine language creates and brings people together in charity. Every cultural expression is able to find the divine. No one who loves the Lord can be left out. Every person who can say "Jesus is Lord" finds the Spirit operative within themselves in astonishingly particular ways. Because the gifts of the Spirit are diverse, we are able to celebrate each contribution with gladness instead of our usual tendency to compare, which brings about despair.

          Galatians cautions people to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh like their pagan neighbors. We are quick to take that to mean that any carnal or earthly desires are bad. The text does not say that. For instance, admiring a beautiful person imaginatively is O.K. We all want to look our best and we make our best moral choices within our station in life. Paul lists many negative behaviors that are a result of attitudes that result from unmet needs. Paul's point in Galatians is the same as John's. If we live according to the Spirit, we are not under the law, but free. It is about time that we learn to live in this freedom that does not restrict, but calls the best out of us.

          One who is in tune with the Spirit will naturally practice virtues that contain love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I know many lovable people who exhibit these qualities. I enjoy being near friends like this because they are pleasant to be around and because the Spirit's presence is palpable. We become what we admire, that is to look towards [ad (to) mire (to look)], and we soon find we are practicing the same virtues. I want to receive the Spirit so I may grow in these virtues.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In his first letter, Peter tells the faithful ones to rejoice while they can because suffering awaits them. All their choices are to be made through the type of love Christ extended to us. For the salvation of your souls, live soberly and set your hopes completely on the grace brought about by the revelation of Jesus Christ. We have been ransomed from our futile conduct by the blood of Jesus. Love one another because we have been born anew. Be hospitable to one another and use your gifts so Jesus Christ may be glorified through you. Do not be surprised by trials, but rejoice that you share in Christ's sufferings. Jude tells us to build yourselves up in the love of God and wait for the mercy of Christ. Praise the one who is able to keep you from stumbling.

Gospel: As we return to ordinary time, we pick up again with Mark's Gospel. Jesus meets a man who asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him, but it makes him sad because he cannot see the relationship between his moral life and possession retention. Peter and the disciples ask if they can be saved. After all, they gave up everything to follow him. Jesus tells them that everyone who has given up all possessions and family will enter the kingdom of heaven. James and John Zebedee ask for the privilege of sitting at his right hand in the kingdom. Jesus tells them the chalice from which they are to drink is one of suffering and new life. In Bethany, Jesus looked around for some food because he was hungry. He cursed the barren fig tree and used it as an example of Israel's barrenness because they were unable to remain faithful to God's life-giving commands. When Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem, the chief priests and scribes demanded to know by what authority Jesus performed miracles and spoke with authority. When they failed to answer an obvious question that pitted them against each other, Jesus thereby refused to answer their question. He invoked their authority.

Saints of the Week

May 27: Augustine of Canterbury, bishop (d. 604) was sent to England with 40 monks from St. Andrew's monastery to evangelize the pagans. They were well-received. Augustine was made bishop, established a hierarchy, and changed many pagans feasts to religious ones. Wales did not accept the mission; Scotland took St. Andrew's cross as their national symbol. Augustine began a Benedictine monastery at Canterbury and was Canterbury's first archbishop.

May 31: Visitation of the Virgin Mary commemorates the visit of Mary in her early pregnancy to Mary, who is reported to be her elder cousin. Luke writes about the shared rejoicing of the two women - Mary's conception by the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth's surprising pregnancy in her advanced years. Elizabeth calls Mary blessed and Mary sings her song of praise to God, the Magnificat.

June 1: Justin, martyr (100-165), was a Samaritan philosopher who converted to Christianity and explained doctrine through philosophical treatises. His debating opponent reported him to the Roman authorities who tried him and when he refused to sacrifice to the gods, was condemned to death.

June 2: Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs (d. 304) died in Rome during the Diocletian persecution. Peter was an exorcist who ministered under the well-regarded priest, Marcellinus. Stories are told that in jail they converted their jailer and his family. These men are remembered in Eucharistic prayer I.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 27, 1555. The Viceroy of India sent an embassy to Claudius, Emperor of Ethiopia, hoping to win him and his subjects over to Catholic unity. Nothing came of this venture, but Fr. Goncalvo de Silveira, who would become the Society's first martyr on the Africa soil, remained in the country.
·         May 28, 1962. The death of Bernard Hubbard famous Alaskan missionary. He was the author of the book Mush, You Malemutes! and wrote a number of articles on the Alaska mission.
·         May 29,1991. Pope John Paul II announces that Paulo Dezza, SJ is to become a Cardinal, as well as Jan Korec, in Slovakia.
·         May 30, 1849. Vincent Gioberti's book Il Gesuita Moderno was put on the Index. Gioberti had applied to be admitted into the Society, and on being refused became its bitter enemy and calumniator.
·         May 31, 1900. The new novitiate of the Buffalo Mission, St Stanislaus, in South Brooklyn, Ohio, near Cleveland, is blessed.
·         Jun 1, 1527. Ignatius was thrown into prison after having been accused of having advised two noblewomen to undertake a pilgrimage, on foot, to Compostella.
·         Jun 2, 1566. The Professed House was opened in Toledo. It became well known for the fervor of its residents and the wonderful effects of their labors. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prayer: Andre Bessette

God doesn't ask for the impossible, but wants everyone to offer their good intentions, their day's work, and some prayers. That will help them a lot. The best Way of the Cross is when people accept willingly the crosses that are sent to them.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Prayer: Peter of Alcantara

Practice acts of mercy. In our own sufferings they give us confidence before God; they contribute much to the value of our prayers... and they secure for them a reception full of mercy, seeing they proceed themselves from a merciful heart. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Poem: The Eyes of Jesus

I imagine the eyes of Jesus were harvest brown,
the light of their gazing suffused with the seasons;

the shadow of winter, the mind of spring,
the blues of summer, and amber of harvest.

A gaze that is perfect sister to the kindness the dwells in his beautiful hands.

The eyes of Jesus gaze on us, stirring in the heart's clay
the confidence of seasons that never lose their way to harvest.

This gaze knows the signature of our heartbeat, the first glimmer
from the dawn that dreamed our minds,

the crevices where thoughts grow long before the longing in the bone
sends them towards the mind's eye,

The artistry of the emptiness that knows to slow the hunger
of outside things until they weave into the twilight side of the heart,

A gaze full of all that is still future looking out for us to glimpse
the jeweled light in winter stone,

Quickening the eyes that look at us to see through to where words
are blind to say what we would love,

Forever falling softly on our faces, his gaze plies the soul with light,
laying down a luminous layer,

Beneath our brief and brittle days until the appointed dawn comes
assured and harvest deft

To unravel the last black knot and we are back home in the house that we have never left.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prayer: Angela Merici

Do not force your commands on others. God has given each person freedom and forces no one, but only indicates, calls and persuades.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayer: Columba Marmion

When evening comes, never lie down to rest without the intimate conviction that you are ready to appear before God. Remind yourself that if death were to come that night, the sovereign Judge would give a verdict... on your conduct and on your whole life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Prayer: James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life

The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seventh Sunday in Easter

The Ascension of the Lord
May 20, 2012
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; (or Ephesians 4:1-13); Mark 16:15-20

                Mark's Gospel concludes with the proclamation to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." (Most scripture scholars see this as a later addition to text to bring it to a positive conclusion. It has often been a source of conflict with evangelicals who believe in a literal textual explanation.) It points out that Jesus is validated as Lord of heaven and earth and is seated at the right hand of God. It emphasizes that the risen Lord confirmed the disciples as they healed and preached the kingdom in his name.

          Luke takes a polished approach to his account of the Ascension. He writes the Acts of the Apostles as an historical book with an emphasis on teaching new Gentile converts about the factual and mysterious accounts of the life of Jesus and the early church. He addresses it to Theophilus, an unnamed lover (filial) of God (Theos), to explain the significance of the divine actions. In the passage we read today, Luke describes Pentecost as the apt conclusion of God's saving work. He illustrates the forty-day period of appearances before Jesus is taken up to heaven where his spirit is sent forth from God to console and strengthen the disciples. The energizing Spirit baptizes believers and guards them in all their ways. The work of Jesus is to continue on this earth as he is still present to his faithful ones.

          As his baptized, we are called to extraordinary care for our fellow believers. Our work is not easy to do. Ephesians 4 outlines the work of the Spirit in a believer who is open to continued growth and discipleship. Whether at an institutional level or the most personal, we have great amounts of work to do to let the Spirit speak. Paul, in Ephesians, says we are to live in a manner worthy of the call we have received. Too often, our insecurities and our propensity to compare prohibits our capacity to be free enough to honor our call.

          Sometimes it seems that the humility and gentleness Paul writes about is largely withheld. It has little room in public discourse and in a competitive workplace environment, we tend not to build up one another and yet when we do, it transforms our culture. Many broken lives can be healed by these thoughtful gestures.

          Many confuse enabling actions with being patient and bearing with one another in love. Being patient means that we forgive tumbles and stumbles and we help the other person stand tall and see new ways of achieving his or her goal. I think many recognize the world is rife with overwhelming suffering. Bearing with another means that we simply show up for the one who feels beaten down at the moment.
          Paul also writes about "preserving the unity of spirit through the bond of peace." Our language mirrors that of the larger society. We learn to critically examine and analyze various situations and we offer suggestions to solve problems through our own individual ways. Rather, we have to learn to build up and assemble rather than to criticize and deconstruct. The Spirit works when we see ourselves as a contributor to the solution. We decide to construct a world where unity and virtues can be more easily grasped. Paul reminds us that the Spirit uses our unique gifts to testify to the good work of God that passes through our hands. Our attitude is important.

          We need to act out of our trust in the Spirit rather than from our insecurities and jealousies. When we believe the success of an endeavor depends upon how well we do things, we have sorely missed the point. Our gratitude goes to the Spirit who opens up the possibilities for us and we celebrate the small contributions we make. We make things far too difficult for ourselves. Suffering is far too omnipresent for our sensibilities. We do not need to pile up more hardships upon ourselves. When we give up control and see where it rightly belongs, we act out of grace that makes life a whole lot more pleasant. In these next days, let's pray fervently that we receive Christ's Spirit anew as we await Pentecost. If we let it, this Spirit can certainly renew our world and bring us greater joy.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul goes to Ephesus to introduce believers to the Holy Spirit. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears and trials, but he returns to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. As Paul says goodbye, he urges them to keep watch over each other and to be vigilant about those who pervert the truth of the Gospel. Paul is brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees are sharply divided; armed forces are sent to rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord tells Paul he must go to Rome and be faithful there just as he was faithful in Jerusalem. King Agrippa hears Paul's case and determines Paul is to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appeals for the Emperor's decision.

Gospel: The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time he is away. Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him by God. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God's steadfastness in a harsh world. He prays for unity, "so that they may be one just as we are one." He consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples. ~ After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus appears at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to take care of his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.

Saints of the Week

May 20: Bernardine of Siena, priest, (1380-1444) was from a family of nobles who cared for the sick during plagues. He entered the Franciscans and preached across northern and central Italy with homilies that understood the needs of the laity. He became vicar general and instituted reforms.

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

May 22: Rita of Cascia, religious (1381-1457), always wanted to become a nun but her family married her off to an abusive man. He was murdered 18 years later. Rita urged forgiveness when her two sons wanted to avenge their father's murder. They soon died too. Rita wanted to enter a convent, but he marital status kept her out. Eventually, the Augustinians in Cascia admitted her. She became a mystic and counselor to lay visitors.

May 24: Our Lady of the Way or in Italian, Madonna della Strada, is a painting enshrined at the Church of the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus. The Madonna Della Strada is the patroness of the Society of Jesus. In 1568, Cardinal Farnese erected the Gesu in place of the former church of Santa Maria della Strada. 

May 25: Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor, (673-735), is the only English doctor of the church. As a child, he was sent to a Benedictine monastery where he studied theology and was ordained. He wrote thorough commentaries on scripture and history as well as poetry and biographies. His famous work is the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," the source for much of Anglo-Saxon history.

May 25: Gregory VII, pope (1020-1085), was a Tuscan who was sent to a monastery to study under John Gratian, who became Gregory VI. He served the next few popes as chaplain, treasurer, chancellor and counselor before he became Gregory VII. He introduced strong reforms over civil authorities that caused much consternation. Eventually, the Romans turned against him when the Normans sacked Rome.

May 25: Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi (1566-1607), a Florentine, chose to become a Carmelite nun instead of getting married. Her biography, written by her confessor, gives accounts of intense bouts of desolation and joy. She is reputed to have gifts of prophecy and healing.

May 26: Philip Neri, priest (1515-1595), is known as the "Apostle of Rome." A Florentine who was educated by the Dominicans, he re-evangelized Roe by establishing confraternities of laymen to minister to pilgrims and the sick in hospitals. He founded the Oratorians when he gathered a sufficient following because of his spiritual wisdom.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 20, 1521. Ignatius was seriously wounded at Pamplona, Spain, while defending its fortress against the French.
·         May 21, 1925. Pius XI canonizes Peter Canisius, with Teresa of the Child Jesus, Mary Madeleine Postal, Madeleine Sophie Barat, John Vianney, and John Eudes. Canisius is declared a Doctor of the Church.
·         May 22, 1965. Pedro Arrupe was elected the 28th general of the Society of Jesus.
·         May 23, 1873. The death of Peter de Smet, a famous missionary among Native Americans of the great plains and mountains of the United States. He served as a mediator and negotiator of several treaties.
·         May 24, 1834. Don Pedro IV expelled the Society from Brazil.
·         May 25, 1569. At Rome the Society was installed by Pope St Pius V in the College of Penitentiaries. Priests of various nationalities who were resident there were required to act as confessors in St Peter's.
·         May 26, 1673. Ching Wei‑San (Emmanuel de Sigueira) dies, the first Chinese Jesuit priest. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prayer: Thomas Moore, Soulmates

It is my conviction that slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major effects at change... Everything associated with the heart - relationships, emotion, passion - can only be grasped and appreciated with the tools of religion and poetry.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Prayer: Bonaventure

Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good and since the highest good is above, we cannot be made happy unless we rise above ourselves, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart. But we cannot rise above ourselves unless a higher power lifts us up.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Prayer: Francis of Assisi

Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so that he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Prayer: Theoleptos of Philadelphia

If suffering did not occur, how would endurance be achieved? Suffering plants the vine of endurance, endurance brings forth the grape of proof that we have stood the test, and this proof produces the wine of hope, and hope makes the heart rejoice because it beholds the happiness that is to come as if it were at hand.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prayer: Anthony of Padua

Just as God is compassionate toward you in a threefold way, so ought you to show compassion toward others is three ways. God's compassion is gracious, spacious, and precious. God's compassion is gracious, that is, grace-filled, because it purifies the soul of vice.... God's compassion is spacious because with the passage of time it extends itself to good works.... God's compassion is precious in the joys of eternal life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sixth Sunday in Easter

May 13, 2012
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

                Peter's major worldview shift in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that we need to assess our faith-based parameters to deal with today's social issues. Peter begins by pointing to the risen Jesus as the source of his power and authority. He does not credit himself but points to his faith in the God as the source of his good works. He tells the assembled group that God shows no partiality since God is the creator of all life. God cares for all creatures equally, but likes when we acknowledge him as protector and care-taker.
          Peter's proclamation is revolutionary because he believes that salvation comes from the Jews and is for the Jews alone because they are God's chosen people. His whole life's teaching is challenged by his acceptance of Paul's influence about Gentiles who are admitted to the ranks of believers. A faithful Jews sees a Gentile as impure and defiled and certainly uneducated in the Scriptures, the Law, and the Prophets. A Gentile is a foreigner who can never understand the depths of religion, and Jews possess a deeply-ingrained disdain for them. Peter's act of obedience to his moral conscience transforms the life of the believers. If God shows no partiality, no cultural restrictions can be imposed on non-Jews. Certainly, many Jews and Gentiles are uncomfortable with this new alliance, but they realize they belong to the same family of God. Salvation can be extended to all who profess belief in the Lord.

          Peter's action is certainly bold. When reason and rightness tells his conscience to do one thing, he finds his religious tradition at odds with his more enlightened beliefs. One gift of the Second Vatican Council is its emphasis on the primacy of conscience. No one is expect to betray his or her informed conscience, but one has a duty to form and develop it. This means wrestling with all sides of a socially complex situation. It respects authority while questioning the reasons that originally led to a particular teaching. Peter shows us that Christ is in charge of the faith. The Spirit will lead the faithful ones to glorify God.

          The Spirit tends towards inclusion. Christ mandates us to spread the message of his kingdom to the ends of the earth and to baptize in the Trinity's name. Some among us profess the church will be better with a smaller, purer, more obedient group of followers. Everything in the Gospel points in the other direction. The early Christians provided hospitality and care to anyone who called upon the name of the Lord - even their adversaries. God's charity provides a balm for our petty divisiveness. Today, the Spirit leads many more people to Christ, even some with philosophies that conflict with our own. The church will provide. We do not have to solve all of its problems. Christ is willing to do that. We have to remember that it is his church.

          John's Gospel points to love of God as foundational. It is. We have to work at remaining in God's love. We think of love as easy; in some ways it is, but love demands that we constantly work to honor and esteem the other as we do ourselves. Love is demanding and it always confronts our beliefs. We can learn from Peter who is free enough to alter the course of history. Christ came to set us free. Let's not bind ourselves unnecessarily. Live in freedom and work at loving your neighbor. When our paradigms shift, we will see the Spirit's work in plain sight.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

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

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

Saints of the Week

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

May 14: Matthias, Apostle (first century) was chosen after the resurrection to replace Judas who committed suicide. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, quoting a psalm, told 120 people who gathered that they were to choose a new apostle - someone who had been with them from the baptism of Jesus until the resurrection. Two names were put forward and the assembly cast lots. Matthias was chosen.

May 15: Isidore (1070-1130), was born in Madrid to a family of farm laborers. With his wife, he worked on an estate and became known for his piety and generosity. His remains are the cause of several miracles most notably the cure of King Philip III who became his sponsor for canonization.

May 16: Andrew Bobola, S.J., priest martyr (1591-1657), is called the Martyr of Poland because of his excruciatingly painful death. He worked during a plague to care for the sick, but he became "wanted" by the Cossacks during a time when anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit sentiment was high. His preaching converted whole villages back to Catholicism and he was hunted down because he was termed a "soul-hunter."

***Please note that the Ascension is celebrated in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Newark, Hartford, and Omaha on Thursday. Most of the world celebrates the feast on  Sunday.

May 17: Ascension Thursday is a holy day of obligation. It marks the event in the life of the Resurrected Christ who departed from this temporal earth to return to God. It celebrates Jesus’ visible absence while recognizing his invisible presence to the world. It is the event in the life of Christ when his physical appearances came to an end so he could resume his place at the right hand of the Father in heaven. St. Ignatius was so desirous of learning about the historical Jesus that he traveled to the places in the Holy Lands where Jesus walked and lived. As he was getting kicked out of the Holy Lands, he desired to return to the place of the Ascension to see the direction of Jesus’ feet as he ascended to God. A novena is prayed beginning on this day as we await the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

May 18: John I, pope and martyr (d. 526), was a Tuscan who became pope under the rule of Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. Theodoric opposed Emperor Justin I in Constantinople who persecuted Arians. John was sent to Justin to end the persecutions. He returned to great glory, but Theodoric was not satisfied, though Justin met all his demands. John was imprisoned and soon died because of ill treatment.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 13, 1572. Election of Gregory XIII to succeed St Pius V. To him the Society owes the foundation of the Roman and German Colleges.
·         May 14, 1978. Letter of Pedro Arrupe to the whole Society on Inculturation.
·         May 15, 1815. Readmission of the Society into Spain by Ferdinand VII. The members of the Society were again exiled on July 31, 1820.
·         May 16, 1988. In Paraguay, Pope John Paul II canonizes Roque Gonzalez, Alfonso Rodriguez, and Juan del Castillo.
·         May 17, 1572. Pope Gregory XIII exempted the Society from choir and approved simple vows after two years of novitiate and ordination before solemn profession. In these matters he reversed a decree of St Pius V.
·         May 18, 1769. The election of Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli as Pope Clement XIV. He was the pope who suppressed the Society.
·         May 19, 1652. Birth of Paul Hoste mathematician and expert on construction of ships and history of naval warfare.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Closing Retreat Homily for John 14:27-31

          Peace. We long for it and yet many of us do not ever take the time to define it thoroughly. We wish each other peace in every liturgy. In fact, the presider greets the congregation with the peace and grace that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we ever ponder what we are saying and doing? For some, peace is a negation - an absence of tension, anxiety, fear and conflict. Perhaps, it is the absence of war and violence. Some consider a type of interior quietude and harmony. The peace some civic leaders desire is a cessation of their opponents' attacks, but that it because they want to impose their thoughts and plans. They/We think, if everyone thinks like me and chooses what I want, peace will reign. Beauty queens want world peace. The prophet Isaiah is at least concrete. He lays a plan for God's peaceable kingdom, but while it sounds nice it doesn't seem wholly realistic. Jesus offers us a peace unlike the peace the world gives. Did your retreat involve a petition for peace? I hope so because Jesus constantly offers it to you.
          In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul encounters adversarial Antiochene Jews. They beat him so badly they think he is dead. Paul suffers tremendously in his ministry - more than most people realize - and he gets up and goes onward and upwards. He is not stopped in his preaching - despite the risks - and he puts the other first - to strengthen the spirits of both new and long-standing disciples. His is a ministry of preaching and consolation. He realizes "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God." After being left for dead, Paul builds up the church in Derbe, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Attalia, and Antioch (in this passage alone). It is amazing he never stops.
          If we trace Paul's footsteps and examine his calamities, he can become a model in dealing with adversity. Paul is almost done in by his fellow Jews. They are his thorn in the flesh. We too can feel done in by forces in the world - by our adversaries, our own churches, blood relatives and closest friends. The hurt by those closest to us stings the most and is devastating. Astonishingly, Paul finds peace in his proclamation of the Gospel. It is a peace that propels him outward with compassion. He does not withdraw for long, but cleverly figures out new ways to proclaim the Gospel when forces thwart him. Even the most adverse circumstances in life do not become obstacles to building up the kingdom. The peace of Christ emboldens him and sets his heart further aflame.
          Following the crucifixion the Apostles live in fear until they receive the peace of Christ. Soon afterwards they boldly proclaim Christ crucified in the public square before men with power to sentence them to death. We are asked to receive this same peace from the same Jesus who is alive to us today so we can live in freedom with a boldness that transcends laws and restrictions. We know our faith is real if, upon leaving this retreat, we have courage and energy to return to our daily life without fear and with encouragement to live with integrity. This integrity means that we love others in the way God loves us. 
         Jesus vanquished the ruler of this world and he reigns over all creation. We are to live as if we believe it - because it is true. Let the resurrection mean something. Learn the power of the resurrection and live in it. Our boldness communicates that we trust in God and believe in the risen Jesus. We rely upon the power of Jesus in remarkable ways where fears are banished. His love can burn in our hearts and he will affirm us when we love ourselves and love others. Our churches and this world needs this peace more than ever. The peace Jesus gave Paul made him one of the best theologians and the greatest missionary ever; in a world that hungers for the consoling compassion of Christ, what are the possibilities for the peace he offers you? This is a worthy gift to accept.

Prayer: Vincent de Paul

The spirit of the world is restless, and wishes to do everything. Let us leave it to itself. Let us have no desire to choose our own paths, but walk in those which God may be pleased to prescribe to us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Prayer: Vincent de Paul

We strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion, which is truly the spirit of God.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Prayer: Basil the Great

A single plant, a blade of grass, is sufficient to occupy all your intelligence in the contemplation of the skill which produced it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Prayer: Robert Bellarmine, S.J.

If we wish to learn the art of living and dying well... we must follow Christ and his apostles, who, by word and deed, have taught us that... the hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ is alone to be desired and expected.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Prayer: Gertrude of Helfta

My God, you are my hope; you the glory; you the joy; you my blessedness. You are the thirst of my spirit; you the life of my soul; you the jubilation of my heart. Where above you could my wonder lead me, my God? You are the beginning and the consummation of all the good, and in you all those who are glad have, as it were, a dwelling place together. You are the praise in my heart and mouth. You glow altogether red in the spring-like loveliness of the festival of your love. May your most outstanding divinity magnify and glorify you because you are the source of light and the fountain of life forever.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Prayer: Diane Dennie, S.S.J.

While I am here at our Motherhouse, I have found some wonderful ways to 'wash feet' - sort of. Each morning I go to Samaritan Wing (an area of our house that offers 'assisted living' to resident sisters and priests). They come together in a dining room for breakfast. There are about 10 sisters and 3 priests there to serve. Several of the sisters are former college professors who taught me. My 'job' is to tell them what is available for breakfast and serve them what they want.  This morning, one of the sisters who has dementia and difficulty speaking, grabbed my hand and held it tight.  So I bent over and kissed her forehead. Another sister at her table said, "I'll have one of those too!"

I also have been driving for sisters who can no longer drive themselves - taking them to appointments or shopping - this is fun too.  Once I spent an entire day at the hospital with a sister who was having ambulatory surgery - she has some memory problems and cannot always speak for herself - so that was my job. She is someone I never really knew before, but now we are great friends!  In fact, she is someone I serve breakfast too and if she can't get out the words to say what she wants to eat, she just smiles at me and says, "You know."

One day I heard her say something that I thought would be good advice for lots of people: "I'm just going to be quiet - too many words are falling out!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fifth Sunday in Easter

May 6, 2012
Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8

                The early church's story focuses upon Paul's life as he is the pivotal founder of Gentile and Jewish communities. The Acts of the Apostles picks up Paul's story after he had his dramatic call on his way to Damascus. Paul is initially rejected by the disciples in Jerusalem because they disbelieved that he was truly one of them. Barnabas comes to his defense and brings him to the apostles and gives them first-hand testimony of Paul's faith. He recounts that Paul spoke boldly in Damascus in the name of Jesus. After receiving assurances, the disciples accept Paul as one of their own.

          Paul moved freely throughout Jerusalem until he debated Hellenists about Christ's divinity. The Hellenists were so incensed at Paul's stance, they tried to kill him. Fearing for his safety, the disciples sent Paul to Tarsus where he could find relative peace and security. The church itself was at peace. It grew in numbers drawing new converts from every corner of the Mediterranean. It was being built up and grew in reverence of the Lord.

          John's Gospel pitches the image of Jesus as the vine and his disciples as the branches. The one who stays close to the heart of the person and teaching of Jesus will grow in holiness and will make the right moral choices. Belief is the key to remaining a disciple; we prove it by remaining faithful to what he teaches us. We have to be open enough to be pruned. It sounds like a good concept, but we forget there is pain in getting pruned. The parts of us that are growing in the wrong direction will be lopped off so we can grown in a new direction. This typically means that our will is being challenged by Jesus. We are told 'no' to an dimension in which we are growing and we are a people who do not like to be told 'no." This pruning, though it stings, will produce results that we like. We have to keep ourselves open to this painful procedure.

          The church today is unlike the times we read about in Acts. It is being pruned in ways that causes sharp pain and confusion. It is not at peace - either internally or with external forces. Forces in the hierarchy silence voices they do not want to hear. Others in the hierarchy are trying to establish reason and understanding. The way we treat one another is far different from the way the disciples treated Paul. Yes, they were cautious, but they learned about the man and his views. They came to know that Jesus Christ was alive and active in Paul. Once they suspended their fears, they warmly accepted him and gave him respect and freedom. We are sadly past the point of welcoming into our community "anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord." We can still learn from the early church that our hearts can still be open to the Lord, which might bring about a new paradigm with which we wrestle. This pruning of our own wills leads to our personal and community growth.

          Remaining close to Jesus is essential even for today. He has to be the interpreter of his teachings. Abiding by his commandments means that we know how to interpret them. Conservatives and progressives interpret teachings according to their experiences. They always have; they always will.  For each, certainty and truth are contained in the words of Jesus and various emphases will be placed on teachings that support their worldviews. Conflict will always exist, but so does the possibility of reverencing the other and welcoming them into our one community of faith. The church is large enough to hold many interpretations and emphases. The flourishing of the church depends upon the ways we show the charity of Christ to others.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

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

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

Saints of the Week

May 10: Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i, priest (1840-1889), was a Belgian who entered the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was sent on mission to the Hawaiian Islands and was a parish priest for nine years. He then volunteered as a chaplain to the remote leper colony of Moloka'i. He contracted leprosy and died at the colony. He is remembered for his brave choice to accept the mission and to bring respect and dignity to the lepers. He was canonized in 2009. A statue of him stands in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

May 12: Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs (early second century), were Roman Imperial soldiers who converted to Christianity. They left the army and were martyred when they refused to sacrifice to idols during Emperor Trajan's reign.

May 12: Pancras, martyr, (d. 304)was a Syrian orphan who was brought to Rome by his uncle. Both soon after converted to Christianity. Pancras was beheaded at age 14 during the Diocletian persecution and buried on the Via Aurelia. A cemetery was named after him, but his remains were sent to Northumbria in England where six churches are dedicated to him.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         May 6, 1816. Letter of John Adams to Thomas Jefferson mentioning the Jesuits. "If any congregation of men could merit eternal perdition on earth and in hell, it is the company of Loyola."
·         May 7, 1547. Letter of St. Ignatius to the scholastics at Coimbra on Religious Perfection.
·         May 8, 1853. The death of Jan Roothan, the 21st general of the Society, who promoted the central role of the Spiritual Exercises in the work of the Society after the restoration.
·         May 9, 1758. The 19th General Congregation opened, the last of the Old Society. It elected Lorenzo Ricci as general.
·         May 10 ,1773. Empress Maria Teresa of Austria changed her friendship for the Society into hatred, because she had been led to believe that a written confession of hers (found and printed by Protestants) had been divulged by the Jesuits.
·         May 11, 1824. St Regis Seminary opens in Florissant, Missouri, by Fr. Van Quickenborne. It was the first Roman Catholic school in USA for the higher education of Native American Indians
·         May 12,1981. A letter of this date, from Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, speaks positively of Teilhard de Chardin in celebration of the centenary of his birth (May 1,1881).