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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Prayer: John Bosco

The fulfillment of every law, the totality of Christian virtue, according to St. Paul consists in charity. You raise yourself toward God in proportion as you perfect yourself in this heavenly virtue.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Spirituality: Ignatius' surrender to God

The way in which Ignatius surrendered himself to God was unique to his experience:

Ignatius is the only saint known to have dedicated himself [or herself] utterly to God by a vigil of arms. The idea had come to him from an old romance, but the deed itself transcended all ceremony, and was an act of supernatural love, inspired by heaven.

(James Brodrick, Saint Ignatius Loyola, p. 86.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Birth Anniversary of the Jesuits

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

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

Prayer: John of the Cross

Live in faith and hope, though it be in darkness, for in this darkness God protects the soul. Cast your care upon God for you are God's and God will not forget you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 30, 2012
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-48

            Similar disputes arise in the Book of Numbers and Mark’s Gospel. Joshua, the longtime aide of Moses, is miffed because Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp and he wants them to stop. These two men are not in the prescribed gathering when the spirit of God descends on those chosen by Moses, but they receive a share in the spirit just the same. The spirit does not conform to their ideas. Moses prudently responds to Joshua, “Would that all be prophets? Would that the Lord bestow his spirit on them all.” Moses sees that Eldad and Medad are taking responsibility for their faith and are acting with good stewardship.

            In the Gospel, John brings up the same concern. He and others see another person driving out demons in the name of Jesus and they try to stop him to no avail. This other man is not initiated into discipleship in the same way as they have been and they feel their authority is usurped. Belonging to a group means that one has power to include and set parameters for membership or to exclude and set conditions for joining an enterprise. The disciple John is perplexed because he knows the man is doing what is good and right, but he is still “the other.” Jesus replies, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” He views the larger strategy in terms of building up the kingdom of God rather than being concerned for his own authority.

            A major question raised by these readings is, “how well do we let other people be themselves?” It is good for us to learn to let ‘the other be other’ and it is not easy. It is natural for us to make others extensions of ourselves. In fact, we often want to control another person’s behavior to such a degree that we deprive them of their essential independence. For instance, if we delegate a task to someone, we are annoyed if the other person does not do it as we would or on our same schedule. We want the person to value the task as highly as we do and we want it done according to our methods because it has worked well for us before.

            This is not a healthy way to proceed. Jesus tells us in the second paragraph of the Gospel that we are not to cause another person to sin. Sin is caused by the attitudes we hold towards others. It is a failure to even bother to love. No one likes to feel manipulated, criticized, and fixed. When we narcissistically make someone conform to our thoughts and identity, we generate ill will and negative responses towards us. We cause the person to get angry with us because we heap impossible expectations upon them. In other words, we cause them to sin.

We begin to succeed when we allow others the creative freedom to carry out their responsibility as they see it. We have to let them communicate their visions and schemes to us while we listen anew. We can learn to credit the other person’s abilities and give them rewards and compliments. We can celebrate the talents others bring to the enterprise, if we are courageous enough to respect the other person’s good intentions. By helping others reach their potential, we quicken the way to meeting our own. We have to understand that we are mostly on the same page with one another; our task is to step back and let the good actions unfold.

            Joshua and John had to step out of the way and allow something greater to play out. As hard as we try to define boundaries, the spirit is going to act without regard of our plans and expectations. The church realizes it must do this, but we cannot criticize the church when we have our personal work to do. Find a way this week of respecting another person’s autonomy and story by letting the person truly be a completely other person made up of his or her own life experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Sincerely ask them about their lives and you will find you will authentically care for them with great ease.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The church turns to the Book of Job to describe the ways of God in the midst of great suffering. Satan appears to God with other angels and asks God to put the righteous Job to the test. If great calamity comes his way, he will surely blaspheme the Lord. God agrees to the test, but declares that while everything around Job can be destroyed, no harm is to come to Job. His livelihood is destroyed; four of his children are killed in a freak accident. Job laments his suffering and questions why he was born in the face of such a horrible life. Job speaks to his friends about the cause of his misfortune in the face of God’s wisdom. Job will not put God to the test. He questions God’s mysterious ways and he knows deeply that his vindicator lives. God will come to his aid. After Job’s many complaints, God addresses him forcefully. Job is quieted in the face of God’s omnipotent knowledge. Job repents in defeat. He will never know the reasons why a just, innocent person suffers before an all-knowing, all-powerful God. As the days go on, Job’s fortune is restored.

Gospel:  As Jesus is teaching his friends how to be the best servant-disciple, he picks us a child and instructs the disciple on how to live like the most neglected ones in society. When told of an unauthorized person casting out demons in his name, Jesus says to let him be. He is with us in this important ministry. Humility is a key for effective discipleship. As people petition Jesus to let them join him on the way, he cautions them that the Son of Man has not place to lay his head or to call home. Most people want to be rooted in society, but a disciple of Jesus has to be prepared to go anywhere in the kingdom. Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples to go out in pairs for the harvest of souls. He gave them behavioral instructions when they were received or rejected from a village. If anyone fails to offer hospitality, they will face a great wrath. Other towns repented and were converted. God will extoll them. Jesus then receives the seventy-two who returned from their missions. He listened to their joyful successes and gave thanks to the Father for revealing his grace to those who were simple and open-hearted.

Saints of the Week

September 30: Jerome, priest and doctor (342-420), studied Greek and Latin as a young man after his baptism by Pope Liberius. He learned Hebrew when he became a monk and after ordination he studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople. He became secretary to the Pope when he was asked to translate the Bible into Latin.

October 1: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1873-1897), entered the Carmelites at age 15 and died at age 24 from tuberculosis. During her illness, Pauline, her prioress, asked her to write about her life in the convent. These stories are captured in "The Story of a Soul." He focused on her "little way" of pursuing holiness in everyday life.

October 2: The Guardian Angels are messengers and intermediaries between God and humans. They help us in our struggle against evil and they serve as guardians, the feast we celebrate today. Raphael is one of the guardians written about in the Book of Tobit. A memorial was added to the Roman calendar In 1670 in thanksgiving for their assistance.

October 3: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.

October 4: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was from the wealthy Bernardone family who sold silk cloths. After serving as soldier as a prisoner of war, Francis chose to serve God and the poor. He felt called to repair God's house, which he thought was a church. His father was angry that he used family money so he disinherited him. He began to preach repentance and recruited others to his way of life. His order is known for poverty, simplicity, humble service, and delighting in creation.

October 6: Bruno, priest (1030-1101), became a professor at Rheims and diocesan chancellor. He gave up his riches and began to live as a hermit with six other men. They had disdain for the rampant clerical corruption. The bishop of Grenoble gave them land in the Chartreuse Mountains and they began the first Carthusian monastery. After serving in Rome for a few years, Bruno was given permission to found a second monastery in Calabria.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
·      Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
·      Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
·      Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."
·      Oct 4, 1820. In Rome, great troubles arose before and during the Twentieth General Congregation, caused by Fr. Petrucci's intrigues. He sought to wreck the Society and was deposed from his office as Vicar General, though supported by Cardinal della Genga (afterwards Leo XII).
·      Oct 5, 1981. In a letter to Father General Arrupe, Pope John Paul II appointed Paolo Dezza as his personal delegate to govern the Society of Jesus, with Fr. Pittau as coadjutor.
·      Oct 6, 1773. In London, Dr James Talbot, the Vicar Apostolic, promulgated the Brief of Suppression and sent copies to Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Prayer: Megan McKenna

Be compassionate and then we may take the bread of compassion at Eucharist with our whole soul and mind and heart. Being compassionate towards others, making neighbors of all peoples in the beginning of communion. We become the friends, the companions of God, those who break bread with God when we break open our lives and care for the needs of our neighbors as God has done with us.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Spirituality: Ignatius' dedication to God

After the night at Montserrat, Ignatius was totally dedicated to God:

God was the center and preoccupation of Ignatius' thoughts, and the object of his special love, and the beloved Person for whom he wanted to do all the little acts which make up daily living. He wanted to be bound irrevocably to God, with the bridges burnt which might lead back to another way of living in which he might have interests other than God - God and [all others] for whom Jesus Christ had shed His blood.

(Ganss, Constitutions, p. 15)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prayer: Catharine of Genoa

O love, your bonds are so sweet and so strong... so firm and so close that they are never broken. Those who are bound by this chain are so united that they have but one will and one aim... In this union there is no difference between rich and poor, between nation and nation. All contradiction is excluded, for by this love crooked things are made straight and difficulties reconciled.

Prayer: Gregory of Nazianzus

If you are healthy and rich, alleviate the need of the one who is sick and poor;
If you have not fallen, help the one who has fallen and lives in suffering;
If you are happy, console the one who is sad;
If you are unfortunate, help the one who has been bitten by misfortune.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prayer: Francis de Sales

If you happen to do something you regret, humble yourself quietly before God and try to regain your gentle composure. Say to your soul, "There, we have made a mistake, but let's go on now and be more careful. Then, when you are inwardly peaceful, don't miss the opportunity to perform as many acts of gentleness as you can, no matter how small these acts may seem, for, as our Lord says, "To the person who is faithful in little things, greater ones will be given.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Prayer: Francis de Sales

When charity is united and joined to faith, it vivifies it.... Just as the soul cannot remain in the body without producing vital actions, so charity cannot be united to our faith without performing works conforming to it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prayer: Dorothy Day

We know God in the breaking of bread and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 23, 2012
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

            In politics we elect a person who represents our ideals and is someone just like us. We want to relate easily to the person who will lead us. We do not elect pompous or self-righteous people. The author of Wisdom writes that many evil people are suspicious of the ‘just’ person and sets out to test that person’s character. If person is self-righteous, encircled adversaries are ready to pounce on his or her first mistake and bring the person down to their level; If the person is righteous because of openness to God and genuine love for neighbors, God will defend this person. Therefore, the ‘just’ person has a guarantee that he or she will be tested and will be made to suffer.

            Jesus, the Just One from God, announces he is to suffer before his death and he will rise on the third day. His disciples do not understand what he is saying and they let the conversation drop. Silence reigns when we are unprepared to hold another person’s suffering. Jesus calls children to himself and as he embraces one of them says that the true leader, the true just one, has to be ready to welcome all others in the way he welcomes an innocent child. A true disciple places the concerns of others before one’s own and does not act out of one’s unmet needs. Jesus says that both hospitality and service to others are the examples of mercy that God desires.

            In the second reading, James tells us that disorder and undesirable behaviors arise from unmet needs. Wars and conflict, writes James, arise from one’s passions. All conflicts we have on a personal level (even national and international) are because we act out of our unmet needs. Too often, we react first. We say things in haste we regret. We speak in pent-up anger because we do not immediately confront our annoyance and ask for an altered behavior from our offender. We act passive-aggressively to show that we are upset instead of bringing our anger directly to the person who caused it.

            It is good when we allow ourselves time for sufficient reflection before we respond. We want to respond rather than react. This is what healthy, happy adults are able to do. You have to flag the behavior of the person who offends you and put them on notice that in the very near future you want to talk about the ways their behavior made you feel. It sets us a conversation where understanding, enrichment, and reconciliation are possible. It communicates your unmet needs to them and it gives the other person helpful information about what you need and lack. You give a person the chance to respond in a loving way. A generous person will give you what you need if it is possible.

            A good question to ask ourselves each day is: “What do I need today?” However, make it specific and personal. “What do I need in my relationship with God? What do I need in my relationship with Suzanne? What are my hopes for a relationship with Clarence?” We help ourselves when we examine our whole relationship and learn how to maneuver through those particular boundary violations without getting stuck there. We need to bring what we need and want to the table of discussion, while realizing that the other person needs freedom to bring what he or she needs and wants to the table as well. A secondary question then is, “What does Suzanne/Clarence need and want?” After some reflection on this, it is good to simply ask them because undoubtedly their answer will be different from the one you imagine for them. Freedom has to be operative in a healthy friendship.

            James writes, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” This is the innocent goodness Jesus models for us and asks us to follow. It leads to a righteousness that comes from God – and that is all that matters for we will have peace within our hearts and with our neighbors. We will know it because all manner of things will be in harmony, but bringing about peace and residing in peace is difficult, continuous work. It is worth it, but it means always striving to be in right relations with your neighbor and yourself. Tell Christ what you need today. Ask him to help you get it.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The author of Proverbs instructs a young person to respect fully the needs on one’s neighbor and stay on the path of righteousness. Envy not the one who chooses a path that seems to be of advantage. It generally leads to foolishness and destruction.  The author gives aphorisms to help a person remember a particular truth when in a time of choice. He cautions against denying God through speaking falsehoods because misspoken words can lead to a person’s dismay; he asks that God favors him with his law. ~ Ecclesiastes, the preacher, reminds the reader that everything is as fleeting as one’s breath. The only thing that endures is God’s presence; all other things pass away. There is a time for everything in life, even the cyclical nature of opposites. The task of a human is to find happiness in the midst of the patterns of the seemingly futile swings of life. ~ For the feast of the angels, Daniel’s visions reveal the heavenly presence of angels who do their best to protect the kingship.

Gospel:  Jesus tells his disciples to be like the light that shines its goodness to dark places. Everything good that is hidden will be revealed for everyone to see its fine qualities. As Jesus is speaking, his befuddled Mother and brothers try to approach him to bring him home and to silence him from say embarrassing statements. Jesus claims that anyone who does the will of God is his Mother or brothers or sisters. He then summons the Twelve together to give them authority over demons and the power to cure diseases. They are sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God with instructions designed to protect them and provide credibility to their ministry. Herod the tetrarch hears about Jesus and asks about him. His advisers think he is John the Baptist reincarnated, or Elijah, or one of the prophets. After this, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” When Peter replies ‘the Christ,’ Jesus once again predicts his passion. ~ On the feast of the angels, Nathanael is the one who identifies Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. The angels rejoice.

Saints of the Week

September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.

September 26: Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (d. 287), were twins who became doctors. They were noted because they never charged anyone a medical fee. They died in the Diocletian persecution. Great miracles have been attributed to them and the Emperor Justinian is claimed to be healed through their intercession.

September 27: Vincent de Paul, priest (1581-1660), was a French peasant who selected to be chaplain at the Queen's household after his ordination. He provided food and clothing to the poor, including prostitutes, the sick, disabled, and homeless. He founded the Congregation of Missions (Vincentians) to preach and train clergy and he co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

September 28: Wenceslaus, martyr (907-929), was raised a Christian by his grandmother while his mother and brother were opposed to Christianity. His brother opposed him when he became ruler of Bohemia in 922. He introduced strict reforms that caused great dissatisfaction among nobles and political adversaries. His brother invited him to a religious ceremony where he was killed in a surprise attack.

September 28: Lawrence Ruiz and 15 companion martyrs (seventeenth century), were killed in Nagasaki, Japan during 1633 and 1637. Most of these Christians were friends of the Dominicans. Lawrence, a Filipino, was a husband and father. He and these other missionaries served the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan.

September 29: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
·      Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
·      Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
·      Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.
·      Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
·      Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened a college.
·      Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Prayer: Katharine Drexel

You have no time to occupy your thoughts with complacency or consideration of what others will think. Your business is simply, "What will my God in heaven think?"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Prayer: Aelred of Rievaulx

In friendship are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and good-will, affection and action. And all these take their beginning from Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Time to Go

Summer is waning. Changes occur imperceptibly except for the one who slows down to take in the sensory world. A cool front has swept over New England giving hints of the chilly nights and warm days ahead. This morning’s sky is deep blue due to the absence of clouds. A mild breeze washes over the deciduous trees whose leaves are beginning to blush. Near the pond’s edge small trees display its mild yellow and orange serving notice of the splendor yet to be unveiled.

Sitting inside the courtyard of Campion Center in Massachusetts, I take time to prepare myself for my upcoming journey. Campion houses a retreat center, a health-care facility for elderly and infirm Jesuits, and an active Jesuit community. I’ve often enjoyed visiting this place before I entered the Jesuits because of the stillness that pervades the inner and outer spaces. This afternoon the Jesuits will honor their jubilarians for their dedicated service to the people of God over the years. Seasons change. Some priests are celebrating the end of their ministry while I am entering into the heart of mine.

I pause to catch my breath before I enter the vigorous transition of moving to an ancient part of the world. I sit in the courtyard created by Brother Jim McDavitt who forged strong relationships over the years in the development office. I sit on a bench dedicated by Linda and Liz, colleagues of Jim’s and friends of mine. The sun warms the early morning breeze. The smells and bells of a just-completed Mass fills the courtyard. Subdued sounds of insects give way to the more pleasant chirping of a few orioles. The edges of summer flowers are browed while hardy autumn petals persevere. White Rhododrendra show promise of an autumn bloom. The stone fountain at the center bubbles away. It is a simmering percolation that can go unnoticed as it periodically spills water down its stone base. All feels still, except that somehow everything knows that change is coming. Summer has ceased and life continues in a hardier way.

Like the Jubilarians who look back on their life’s work, I’ve spent this summer assembling the pieces of my life and getting new pieces of the puzzle. Yesterday I was at a party given to me by my family. It was a festive time reminiscent of the days when we were young. I also drove by my old school and revisited roads that once housed childhood friends. Memories upon memories percolated like that fountain in Campion’s courtyard. I recalled those autumn days when I walked home from soccer practices along a four and a half mile stretch along the state forest that contained barely ten houses. I was always drawn deeply into myself when I was immersed in the colorful foliage. Words fail when I try to capture the transcendent feelings. All I know is that I feel glad to be alive. All manner of things are reoriented to their proper place when I allow myself to sense the world around me.

I have been undeservedly awash in care and gratitude this summer. Meals, visits, walks, and meaningful conversations have prepared me for my imminent venture. As I stripped away my life’s possessions, these acts of kindness have filled the space. I treasure the cards and thoughtfulness I received from many loved ones. I wish I were able to repay them for their inexhaustible good deeds!

I’m prepared to leave. In Ignatius’ Suscipe, his prayer of offering oneself to God, he petitions the Lord to take his liberty, memory, will, understanding, and all that one has and possesses. It has inspired many Jesuits and friends for centuries, but it is harder to do than one imagines. I want to keep my will because I want to be able to choose. I want to keep my freedom because I have worked hard for my own personal freedom and I’m thankful my country protects my civil freedoms. I want to keep my understanding because it helps me to become enriched, and I want to keep my memory because they contain memories of you, friends, and loved ones.

To rid oneself of possessions is not easy because we collect things that will be useful in the future and remind us of meaningful times, places, and people. Intellectually, I recognize that all is God’s. All is gift. Emotionally, I find I am attached in ways that need more freedom to enter. However, Christ has told me he will save those important memories for me better than any object can, better than I can. I have to keep moving in the direction of trust. His presence is the best gift to me because we will move through this journey together. In my prayer, I see him talking with Ignatius and they assure me of their brotherly solidarity with me. I find this is a real test of who I am. I feel secure in the line of many Jesuit missionaries dating back to Xavier to the East and to the many who discovered the New World. I am proud to be a Jesuit and I pray that Christ and Ignatius are proud of me.

My prayer is that I remain open to God’s graces. I want to experience the abiding presence of Christ and Ignatius each day. I want to ask, “Where are you, O Christ, in my life today?” I know I will be preoccupied with the transitions’ trial. Therefore, I pray that Christ be the pervading stillness that reorients everything in my life. I pray that Christ looks after my family and loved ones and that he keeps us connected to one another. I pray that everyone continues to move towards greater freedom and a healthy, happy life. I pray for the individual intentions that many have brought to me. I pray that we come to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Seasons change; Christ remains eternal.

It is time to embark on a new adventure. Lots will unfold before us. I simply ask Christ to help me go in the direction of his embrace where there is singing and rejoicing and where tears are dried and weeping has ceased. He makes all things new. Let’s behold the many graces given to us. Let’s go forward carrying each other in our hearts.

For the Greater Glory of God.