Monday, April 30, 2012

Prayer: Coming Home

In this time of your life,
may you come to know what others have come to know.
In having to go where you have least wanted to fo,
and in choosing to do what is most difficult to do,
may you discover yourself becoming
and not just a different person but a better person.

Not just more seasoned, but more real.
Not just more knowledgeable, but more compassionate.
Not just more hearty, but more whole.

May your pilgrimage through your experience of loss
lead you to both renewed life and replenished hope.
May you come to rediscover what you've never really lost:
your truest and best self.
And may you arrive at the place where you first started -
that place which is still the same and yet very different -
and may you find that this is where you should be.

May you feel like you are coming home.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prayer: "The Sacraments" by Francis of Assisi

I once spoke to a friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments. He got so excited and ran into a hollow in his tree and came back holding some acorns, an owl feather, and a ribbon he had found. And I just smiled and said, "Yes, dear, you understand. Everything imparts his grace."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prayer: A Blessing for those leaving Eucharist

O Christ, you are within each of us. It is not just the interior of these walls: It is our own inner being that you have renewed. We are your temple not made with hands. We are your body. If every wall crumbles and every church decays, we are your habitation. Nearer are you than breathing, closer than hands and feet. Ours are the eyes with which you, in the mystery, look out with compassion on the world. Yet we bless you for this place, for your directing of us, your redeeming of us, and your indwelling. Take us outside, O Christ, outside holiness, out to where soldiers curse and nations clash at the crossroads of the world. So shall this building continue to be justified. We ask it for your own name's sake.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

Let the truth be in your hearts, as it will be if you practice meditation, and you will see clearly what love we are bound to have for our neighbors.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prayer: Dionysius of Alexandria

God the Father,
source of everything divine,
you are good, surpassing everything good,
and just, surpassing everything just.
In you is tranquility, as well as peace and harmony.
Heal our divisions and restore us
to the unity of love, which is similar to your divine nature.
Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Easter


April 29, 2012
Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

                Jesus declares, "I am the good shepherd" and then explains how his actions are different from other hired shepherds who primarily look out for their own interests. He always places the interests of others before his own - so much so that he will give his life for the safety of the flock. Religious leaders who imitate his motives will be recognized as good shepherds too because their motives show real concern for the flock.

          However, Jesus recognizes that other religious leaders will pretend they act as shepherds, but their revealed motives are for their own self-protection and self-promotion. Jesus gives the flock credit. He knows it does not take much to easily discern between good and false shepherds because the good ones pastorally respond to the needs and concerns of their flock and place their interests first. They are not concerned with teachings and rules, but for well-being and safety. A good shepherd gathers and nurtures, while a false shepherd scatters and deserts. A good shepherd encourages freedom.

          This morning I visited a Montessori pre-kindergarten to Grade 2 school run by two Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. I saw good shepherds in action. These two religious sisters and their loyal staff of teachers and volunteers provided a orderly environment of education based on mutual respect and freedom. It is absolutely clear that these sisters go out of their way to help these students in any way possible. Their school is run by charity that arises from their faith. They believe in their students' potential to be thoughtful boys and girls who care for others - at any age.

          Well-communicated rules foster growth and maturity. Every morning, each student makes a plan of daily activities with their teachers - with structured guidance. They are encouraged to choose the order of their day. These children respond to high-level expectations for civilized conduct and respectful treatment of others in a culture that promotes thinking and feeling. All the while, they remain children who cope with the demands of life. They are expected to merely be children while learning best ways to relate well to others. I have never seen such a tidy, orderly school. Surprisingly, the place swarms with an holistic atmosphere of freedom and joy rather than rigidity and structure. A healthy self-esteem is nourished. Dignity is promoted. Love of neighbor ranks with love of self. Hope triumphs. Their energized lives fill my heart with gladness.

          My heart warms as I think of these two sisters and their staff who provide remarkable shepherding of these children. I wish I attended their school as a boy. I wish for my nieces and nephews and all my friend's children and grandchildren to experience this school of excellence. The heart of this school lies in the heart of these sisters whose hearts lie deeply in the heart of Jesus, the good shepherd. Instinctively, I trust this goodness. It is the type of goodness Jesus wants all religious leaders to have for their flocks. This goodness fosters a freedom that allows human dignity to soar and reach its God-given potential. The fruit of this work is seen immediately, but its greater reward lay ahead.

          Thank God for our religious sisters who work tirelessly in their vocations. While their reward is eternal, I pray they receive the earthly honor and dignity they rightly deserve.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

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

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

Saints of the Week

April 29: Catherine of Siena, Doctor, had mystical visions as a girl that continued during her 3rd Order of Dominican profession at age 16. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon in 1377 in order to heal the great Western Schism. She is said to have a brilliant theological mind. When she died at age 33, she was found to have the stigmata. 

April 30: Pius V, pope (1504-1572), led the church through the Reformation (1566-1572). He was ordained a Dominican priest and taught in seminaries, became master of novices and a prior to several houses, and eventually became the General of the Inquisition. His excessive zeal led to his publication of Trent’s decrees on the Roman catechism, breviary, and missal. His alignment with European monarchical forces stopped the decline of Islamic advances by the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 in the gulf of Patras in the Ionian Sea. 

May 1: Joseph the Worker was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities which believers should adopt.

May 2: Athanasius, bishop and doctor (295-373), was an Egyptian who attended the Nicene Council in 325. He wrote about Christ's divinity but this caused his exile by non-Christian emperors. He wrote a treatise on the Incarnation and brought monasticism to the West.

May 3: Philip and James, Apostles (first century), were present to Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Philip was named as being explicitly called. James is called the Lesser to distinguish him from James of Zebedee. Little is known of these founders of our faith.

May 4: Joseph Mary Rubio, S.J., priest (1864-1929), is a Jesuit known as the Apostle of Madrid. He worked with the poor bringing them the Spiritual Exercises and spiritual direction and he established local trade schools.  

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
·         Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.
·         May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.
·         May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him.
·         May 3, 1945. American troops take over Innsbruck, Austria. Theology studies at the Canisianum resume a few months later.
·         May 4, 1902. The death of Charles Sommervogel, historian of the Society and editor of the bibliography of all publications of the Jesuits from the beginnings of the Society onward.
·         May 5, 1782. At Coimbra, Sebastian Carvahlo, Marquis de Pombal, a cruel persecutor of the Society in Portugal, died in disgrace and exile. His body remained unburied fifty years, till Father Philip Delvaux performed the last rites in 1832. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Literature: Jack Kerouac

"Here's to the crazy ones.The misfits.
The rebels.The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes -
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules and
they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them,
quote them, disbelieve them,
glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing that you
can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Prayer: Presence of God

At the still point of my turning world,
At the core of my being,
I wait to hear and feel the gentle presence of God
Who calls me to open and let go.
Can I go to that place where God is calling me?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Literature: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. Where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outwards, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

Joseph Campbell

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Song: My Shepherd will Supply my Need

My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is his Name,
In pastures fresh he makes me feed beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake his ways.
He leads me for his mercy's sake in paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death, they presence is my stay.
One word of thy supporting breath drives all my fears away,
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, doth still my table spread.
My cup with blessings overflows, thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days.
O may this house be my abode and all my works be praise.
There would I find a settled rest while others go and come.
No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spirituality: Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche

One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo


Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Third Sunday in Easter


April 22, 2012
Acts 3:13-15; Psalm 4; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48

The story of the beleaguered disciples who left Jerusalem for nearby Emmaus touches the hearts of many. Their hopes were dashed and they were despondent. As they understood it, the mission of Jesus ended in a colossal failure. They hoped he was the one who was to deliver them from the oppression of the Romans and other national threats. Instead¸ calamity confronted them. This was their 9/11, but of much greater magnitude. With nothing left to do, they headed for home to pick up the pieces and cope with their disillusioned hopes.

The Gospel begins after the risen Jesus appears to the disciples who turn around straightaway so they can tell the other disciples. With the others, the Emmaus disciples tell their story of meeting Jesus on the road and discovering who he was in the breaking of the bread. He appears to them again and wishes them ‘peace.’ Their initial excitement turns into anxiety because the risen Jesus is with them again. A first encounter is certainly wondrous, but a second appearance must have a weighty significance to it.

It is at this point that we see the development of the Resurrection accounts. In Mark, the earliest Gospel, the empty tomb is enough to bring people to belief. The women who went to the tomb look inside and believe. Matthew tries to answer some questions of the early community who were under outside pressure to answer the charge presented to them: the disciples stole his body. The Roman guards deflect that volley. The disciples encounter Jesus in a human form when he appears to Mary and to the Eleven Apostles. The later disciples wanted visible proof that he rose from the dead. An empty tomb is insufficient proof to later generations that Jesus was raised by God.

Luke, the third Gospel written, goes one step further. Not only does Jesus appear in risen form, he bears the marks of the crucifixion. This is to negate the charge that he is a ghost for a ghost does not have flesh and blood. A ghost does not eat and drink. He asks his disciples to look at his hands and feet to show that his risen form is continuous with his crucified self. This bodily form of Jesus is the same who died brutally.

The third proof of the resurrection is evidenced in the Acts of the Apostles when Peter speaks boldly and without fear. It was just a mere few days beforehand when he was cowering behind locked doors with the others who deserted Jesus. They feared for their lives because the religious authority and the Romans knew they were the cohorts of Jesus. Any public appearance meant crucifixion was likely. However, we find Peter boldly calling out the people and telling them what God has done for them. He does not hesitate to let them know that they were agents in the death of Jesus, but he does not hold it against them. It is their responsibility to own up to their actions and repent. Their sins are wiped away if they come to belief.

Both Peter and Jesus insist that it was necessary that Jesus suffered for us. We can treat that in more detail in the future. Today, I think it is helpful if we reflect on what the resurrection really is (since it is a present reality.) For your belief, do you need proof of the bodily resurrection of Jesus to know the resurrection occurred? Or, is the empty tomb enough? What really does it mean that Jesus was vindicated by God, in his entire person, which includes his teachings and deeds? It makes us ask what the resurrection means for us? It takes a great deal of time to ponder and wonder. We also have to remember that Jesus can tell us. In fact, I think he wants to tell each of us in a way we can hear and understand.

Jesus is risen from the dead. It means so much to me. I have to always remind myself that my life ought to be markedly different from those who do not believe. I hope my actions testify to my belief that Jesus has been raised from beyond death so that we all may have life. This means that in a world of suffering, we can find deep joy – very deep joy.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

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

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

April 22: Jesuits honor Mary as the Mother of the Society of Jesus. In the Gesu church in Rome, a painting of Our Lady of the Way (Maria della Strada) is portrayed to represent Jesuit spirituality. Mary had been a central figure to Ignatius’s spirituality. In 1541, seven months after papal approval of the Jesuit Order and two weeks after his election as the first general, Ignatius celebrated Mass at Our Lady’s altar in the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome.

April 23: George, martyr (d. 303), was killed in Lydda, Palestine. He may have been a Roman soldier who organized a Christian community in what is now Iran (Urmiah). He became part of the Middle Ages imagination for his ideal of Christian chivalry and is thought to have slain a dragon. He was sent to Britain on an imperial expedition. He became the patron of England (and of Crusaders) and the nation adopted George’s Arms, a red cross on a white background, which is still part of the British flag.

April 23: Adalbert, bishop and martyr (956-997), was Bohemian-born who was consecrated bishop of Prague amidst fierce political opposition. He was exiled and became a Benedictine monk in Rome that he used as a base to preach missions in Poland, Prussia, Hungary, and Russia. He is named the "Apostle to the Slavs." He was killed in Gdansk, Poland.

April 24: Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr (1578-1622), was a canon lawyer from Swabia, Germany who became a Capuchin Franciscan  in Switzerland in 1612. Prior to priesthood, he tutored nobles in France, Italy and Spain and helped interpret legislation that served the poor. He was known as the "lawyer for the poor." He was later appointed to the challenging task of preaching to the Protestants in Switzerland, where he was killed for being an agent for the king. He was the head of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in anti-Catholic hostilities. He was accused of being the king's political agent and was assaulted and killed.

April 25: Mark, the Evangelist is the author of the earliest Gospel and is associated with Peter whom he heard preach. Mark was a member of the first Christian community in Jerusalem and his mother owned a house in the city that was used as a place of prayer during Peter's imprisonment under Herod Agrippa I. He was originally a companion of Paul and Barnabas having traveled with them back to Antioch in Syria. Later, they brought him along as their assistant on a missionary journey. He is associated with Peter’s ministry later in life. He was sent to Alexandria and formed a church that is now known as the Coptic Orthodox Church.

April 28: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr (1803-1841), is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural eastern France, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) to become a missionary in 1831 after a five-year stint teaching in the seminary. At first the missionaries were well-received in the New Hebrides and other Pacific island nations as they recently outlawed cannibalism. The growth of white influence placed Chanel under suspicion, which led to an attack on the missionaries. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest. 

April 28: Louis of Montfort, priest (1673-1716), dedicated his life to the care of the poor and the sick as a hospital chaplain in Poitiers, France. He angered the public and the administration when he tried to organize the hospital women's workers into a religious organization. He was let go. He went to Rome where the pope gave him the title "missionary apostolic" so he could preach missions that promoted a Marian and Rosary-based spirituality. He formed the "Priests of the Company of Mary" and the "Daughters of Wisdom."

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Apr 22, 1541. Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn profession of vows in the basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls.
·         Apr 23, 1644. A General Chapter of the Benedictines condemned the calumny that St Ignatius was not the real author of the Spiritual Exercises. A monk had earlier claimed that the matter was borrowed from a work by Garzia Cisneros.
·         Apr 24, 1589. At Bordeaux, the Society was ordered to leave the city. It had been falsely accused of favoring the faction which was opposed to King Henry III.
·         Apr 25, 1915. Pierre Rousselot, Professor at the Institute Catholique in Paris, is wounded and taken prisoner during World War I.
·         Apr 26, 1935. Lumen Vitae, center for catechetics and religious formation was founded in Brussels.
·         Apr 27, 1880. On the occasion of the visit of Jules Ferry, French minister of education, to Amiens, France, shouts were raised under the Jesuit College windows: "Les Jesuites a la guillotine."
Apr 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540. 

Tuesday, April 17, 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 bu an ascent of the body, but of the heart. But we cannot rise above ourselves unless a higher power lifts us up.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Prayer: David Coppola


O Lord,
We saw the bread crumbs, emptied vessels, damp towels scattered over the shaking floor of our faith. Justice was swept under the rug of violence and redemption hung in the balance of a cross. Just when all seemed lost and death began to dance the long night came to an end.

We proclaim your death, O Lord.

At down, on the first day of the week, we pulled ourselves away from tear-stained pillows and walked in tired mourning to the place where, unguarded, the stone was rolled away, revealing an empty tomb full of life and possibility! The earth shook with the news, "He is not here."

And we profess your resurrection.

Light shines and lilies bloom. You are with us again in this upper room. We sigh and laugh at stories of darkness past. At your table we eat and sing Alleluia! Alleluia! Bells of blessing ring! We dare to touch each other's hands and side. Peace is your gift, Life is our guide!

Until you come again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Song: The Resurrection


The child you bore has risen now and stayed the power of death and sin. See him stand with holes and heaven in his hand.

Jesus Christ is risen, risen from the tomb,
he, who God conceived within the virgin's womb.
No longer dead, redundant in the grave,
Jesus walks the world he came to love and save.

Jesus Christ is risen, snares of hell are burst;
God's own Son has conquered human nature's worst.
All sinful souls by Christ can be forgiven;
earth can share the grace enjoyed by heaven.

Jesus Christ is risen. Let his foes take note;
force can no more frighten, greed no more can gloat.
Tyrants should tremble, avarice should cower;
naked love has triumphed over worldly power.

Jesus Christ is risen and will soon ascend
where space finds its limit and time meets its end.
Yet throughout earth his Spirit will remain
raising life from death like growth from fallen grain.

by John Bell

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prayer: Augustine

We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song. Let us sing 'Alleluia' here and now in this life, even though we are oppressed by various worries, so that we may sing it one day in the world to come, when we are set free from all anxiety...

How happy will be our shout of 'Alleluia' as we enter heaven, how carefree, how secure from any assault, where no enemy lurks and no friend dies...

Advance in virtue, in true faith, and in right conduct. Sing up!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prayer: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Love is the only force that can make things one without destroying them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Prayer: Bernard of Clairvaux

Where can the weak find a place of firm security and peace, except in the wounds of the Savior? Indeed, the more secure is my place there, the more he can do to help me. The world rages and the devil lays his snares, but I do not fall, for my feet are planted on firm rock.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Prayer: The Great Multitude in White Robes


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever.
Amen!” 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Poem: "Heaven-Haven" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Homily for the Easter Vigil

          The stillness of Holy Saturday is cracking open. Silence reverently honors what Jesus is doing for us. We pay our respects without words, without movement - for without him, life is out of balance. Our mourning is real; grief isolates us and sends us scurrying inwards. We are more easily a Good Friday people than an Easter people. To sort through our ambiguous feelings, we stay in the tomb. Sorrow is like an old familiar friend who comes to visit and does not know when to leave. The tomb is comfortable as a place where we can say all those things we couldn't express when he was alive. We cling to hope while it is shrouded in darkness. We yearn for a world restored to its original harmony. We wait in vigil - hoping against hope that Jesus will hear and console us - even from death. We wait for him to come for us. Our waiting is an expectant one - more akin to Advent's hope - because we know God remembers.


          It is a marvel that Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome arise from their sorrow and head for the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices. Though the anointing brings closure and allows them to say goodbye, it takes incredible energy to muster enough strength to get out of bed early when feeling bereft. They have to wait for someone stronger to roll the large tombstone away. The next events are amazing. They enter the empty tomb, see the place where his body was laid, notice how the garments are cared for, and they believe. They remember something personal in the tomb. It is enough for them to know something beyond belief is occurring. They don't need to see the risen Lord's body. The young man clothed in a white robe confirms what they already know: Jesus of Nazareth is raised from the dead. He has come back for them. He will meet his disciples and Peter in Galilee. The women too will see him, just as he told them. He returns for us too.

          We approach Easter differently from the first disciples. We remember these events through the Risen Christ who is alive to us and present in our memories. Though we know the rest of the story, we relive with Christ the events of his Passion because he has something more to reveal - something personal. His ministry of saving and freeing us is still at work. His actions give meaning to our bewildering suffering. He consoles so we can share joyously in his victory over sin and death. These tyrants can never have the last word. He asks us to share in his joy - not that suffering and death are absent from us, but to show us that we belong to a greater realm that includes our resurrection and everlasting happiness. The risen Jesus of Nazareth still labors extensively for our benefit.

          We unlikely will have a dramatic Easter moment the way the three Gospel women did. We aren't meant to. Christ and his Father speaks to us in the familiar ways we are accustomed. Their communication is continuous - in a way we can hear and know and experience their presence in a uniquely private manner. No. For us, Easter comes in tiny, nearly-insignificant, personal moments - ones that testify that God is at work taking some burdens off our shoulders or giving us fresh reassurance or just to say, "I am" here for you. Just as Jesus was born into the world largely unnoticed, we experience his "rebirth" in equally obscured ways. We know these moments are real and intimate because his heart unmistakably communicates with ours.

          Tonight, we gather in stilled darkness; we wait with a reverent, grateful hope. We focus upon the steadfast God who remembers us and watches our hearts be moved once again by his story of salvation and friendship. This God creates and recreates us, brings life out of chaos and death, passes over us during plagues of death and destruction; and raises us to new life. God wants us to live fully - free from all constraints and burdens. God cares about our tiniest and weightiest concerns. God is always active in our history and promises to be so. We pray that God will open our hearts ever more widely to his goodness. God calls us forth into a bright new life governed by his intimate affection for us.

          This is God's moment - the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the creator of the world. We cry: "How wonderful your care for us! How limitless your love!" The power of this night vanquishes all evil, cleanses away guilt, restores our true selves, brings the Beatitudes to life; it casts out hatred and violence, brings us a tranquil peace, and humbles earthly pride. This is God's moment - to celebrate our restoration to grace so we can grow together in holiness. This is God's moment - to remember that his Son broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from grave. This is God's moment - when earth and heaven are united - through his gentle touch that reconciles all people, all things to himself. Christ who is our light sheds his grace and light on everyone. May we carry his light within us with a fire that kindles other fires. Let our lights mingle with the lights of heaven in gratitude to the one who remains steadfast. This is truly God's moment. I pray our heartfelt responses and songs of joy pleases God and brings him exultant joy. I hope our celebration brings great delight and happiness to God. I want to know God is smiling and laughing tonight.

          God raised Jesus from the grave so we can be drawn closer to God's self. Wow! He will raise us too. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Prayer: Benedict XVI

Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself lives in us, and in him we can already savor the joy of eternal life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Song: An Old Welsh hymn

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

Prayer: Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. - there is a great silence

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Friday Reflection

"It was on the Friday."

It was on the Friday that they ended it all.
Of course, they didn't do it one by one.
They weren't brave enough.
All the stones at the one time or no stones thrown at all.

They did it in crowds.... in crowds where you can feel safe
and lose yourself and shout things you would never shout
on your own, and do things you would never do if you felt
the camera was watching you.

It was a crowd in the church that did it,
and a crowd in the civil service that did it,
and a crowd in the street that did it,
and a crowd on the hill that did it.

And he said nothing.

He took the insults, the bruises, the spit on the face,
the thongs on the back, the curses in the ears.
He took the sight of his friends turning away,
running away.

And he said nothing.

He let them do their worst until their worst was done,
as on Friday they ended it all....
and would have finished themselves had he not cried,
"Father, forgive them all."

And the revolution began.

from Stages on the Way, Chicago, GIA Publications.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Sunday: He is Risen!


April 8, 2012
Vigil Mass: Gen. 1; Gen. 22; Exodus 14; Isaiah 54; Isaiah 55; Baruch 3; Ezekiel 36; Psalm 42 or 51; Romans 6; Mark 16:1-7
Mass during the Day: Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4 (or 1 Cor. 5:6-8); John 20:1-9 or Luke 24:13-35

He is Risen! Alleluia!

                Good Friday has a strong grip on our consciousness. We are easily affected by the dramatic events of the day because we endure enough suffering on our own. It is easy for us to identify with some feelings of Jesus as he stumbles through his Passion. We are able to honor what Jesus is doing for us; at the same time we feel the weightiness of illness, dysfunction, broken relationships, and deep sorrow. We find that we reside in that sorrow as is it is a familiar friend. We look for meaning in it and try to find a way out, but we realize our powerlessness in the face of real suffering. We find that we are more of a Good Friday people than an Easter people. It is far easier to stay in the tomb in order to process our ambiguous feelings. We hang onto our memories of cherished times with loved ones and we want the world restored to its original beauty that we glimpsed at some point in our lives. We cling to hope while it is shrouded in darkness.

          The stillness of Holy Saturday keeps us inert. We do not feel like moving or doing much in order to properly pay respects to the dead Jesus. Our mourning is real; grief isolates us and causes us to move inwards. The tomb becomes comfortable as a place where we can say all those things we held back on saying while he was alive. We wait in vigil - hoping against hope that he will hear us and console us.

          It is a marvel that Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome arose from their sorrow and grief to go to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices. Though the anointing brings closure and allows them to say goodbye, it is difficult to muster strength to get out of bed and go to the tomb when feeling bereft. They knew they would have to wait for someone stronger to roll the large tombstone away. The next events were amazing (and it seems foolish that the young man clothed in a white robe told them not to be amazed) as they entered the empty tomb, the place where he was laid, and they saw and believed. The young man told them that Jesus of Nazareth has been raised and will meet his disciples and Peter in Galilee. The women too will see him, just as he told them.

          We approach Easter differently as the first disciples did. We do so through the Spirit of Christ who is alive to us and present in our memories. Though we know the rest of the story, we relive with Christ the events of his Passion because he has something significant to reveal to us. He ministry of freeing us and saving us is still at work. He comes to console us so we can share in his victory over sin and death. Those tyrants will never have the last word to any disciple of Jesus. He asks us to share in his joy - not that suffering and death are absent from us, but that we belong to a greater realm that includes our resurrection and everlasting happiness. The raised Jesus of Nazareth is still laboring hard for our benefit.

We unlikely will have a dramatic Easter moment the way the three Gospel women did. No. For us, Easter comes in tiny, nearly-insignificant, personal moments, but ones in which we can testify that God is at work taking some burdens off our shoulders or giving us fresh reassurance. Just as Jesus came into the world largely unknown, we experience his "rebirth" in equally obscured ways. We know they are real and that he is present to us continuing his ministry of consolation. These are intimate moments.

At church, we gather in stilled darkness; we wait in a hope that shows our reverent thankfulness to Jesus. We focus upon the steadfast God who is watching us listen again to God's story of salvation and friendship to us. This God created us and the world, and recreates us, brings life out of chaos and death, passes over us during plagues of death and destruction; and raises us to new life through the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. He is always active in our history. We pray that God will open our hearts even more widely to him as we remember the many ways he remains steadfast to us. God wants us to come to life fully - free from the burdens of this world - because we know God cares about our tiniest and weightiest concerns. God will save us from destruction as he has done before and call us forth into a bright, new life governed by his personal affection for us. He will raise us as he raised Jesus from the dead. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We follow the Acts of the Apostles in the Easter octave. Peter stands up on Pentecost to proclaim to Jews in Jerusalem that Jesus of Nazareth who they put to death has been vindicated by God and raised to new life. When the Jews realize the significance of their actions, they petition Peter to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Peter and John heal the crippled man at "the Beautiful Gate" at the temple. All who witnessed it recognized that the man used to be the crippled beggar. Peter and John preach to the Jews gathered at Solomon's portico and tell them all that the prophets and scripture say about Jesus. The priests, temple guards, and the Sadducees confront Peter and John and hold them in custody. The religious authorities question their teaching and healing power. The Sanhedrin dismissed them with instructions not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter, John, and the healed man persevere in their boldness. The Sanhedrin wait to see if this is of God or of another source of power.

Gospel: In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary meet Jesus on the way and he exhorts them not to be afraid. The chief priests hire soldiers to say, "the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus." In John, Magdalene weeps outside the tomb and thinks Jesus is the gardener, until he speaks to her familiarly. In Luke, two disciples heading towards Emmaus meet Jesus along the way and he opens the scripture for them. As they recount their story to the Eleven, Jesus appears before them, beckons them not to be afraid, and eats with them. In John, six disciples are with Peter as they fish at the Sea of Tiberius. After a frustrating night of fishing, Jesus instructs them to cast their nets wide and they catch 153 large fish. The beloved disciple recognized the man on the beach as the Lord and they rush to meet him. In Mark, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene who told the Eleven about him. Two other disciples on the road returned to speak of their encounter, and then Jesus appears to them while they were at table.

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered during the Easter octave.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Apr 8, 1762. The French Parliament issued a decree of expulsion of the Jesuits from all their colleges and houses.
·         Apr 9, 1615. The death of William Weston, minister to persecuted Catholics in England and later an author who wrote about his interior life during that period.
·         Apr 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.
·         Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.
·         Apr 12, 1671. Francis Borgia, the 3rd general of the Society, was canonized by Pope Clement X.
·         Apr 13, 1541. Ignatius was elected general in a second election, after having declined the results of the first election several days earlier.
·         Apr 14, 1618. The father of John Berchmans is ordained a priest. John himself was still a Novice. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spirituality: What will happen with the Crucified Jesus?

The church does not pretend, as it were, that it does not know what will happen with the crucified Jesus. It does not sorrow and mourn over the Lord as if the church itself were not the very creation which has been produced from his wounded side and from the depths of his tomb. All through the services the victory of Christ is contemplated and the resurrection is proclaimed.

Thomas Hopko

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lenten Resolve

Know that your true home is in the holy Presence. It is that simple. Do not wait for your calendar to be empty, or your permanent address to change, before recognizing this reality.

Prayer: Pope Clement I of Rome

It is to the humble-minded that Christ belongs, not to those who exalt themselves above his flock... The Lord Jesus Christ did not, for all his power, come clothed in boastful pomp and overweening pride, but in a humble frame of mind.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Prayer: Andrew of Crete

Let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him.

We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join in the holy song: 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.'

Lenten Resolve

Rediscover the joy of a quiet conversation, a simple story or game, an honest expression of affection for another. These simple gifts and pleasures will keep your life balanced.