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Monday, March 31, 2014

Prayer: Thomas a Kempis

Take away, O Lord, from our hearts all suspiciousness, indignation, anger, contention, and whatever is calculated to wound charity and lessen neighborly love. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who seek your mercy. Give grace to the needy. Make us live so that we may be found worthy to enjoy the fruition of your grace and attain eternal life.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Prayer: Louis of Montfort

O Jesus, living in Mary,
Come and live in your servants,
In the spirit of your holiness,
In the fullness of your might,
In the truth of your virtues,
In the perfection of your ways,

In the communion of your mysteries.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

Holy Mary, help those who are miserable, strengthen those who are discouraged, comfort those who are sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women and men consecrated to God. May all who venerate you experience your assistance and protection. Be ready to aid us when we pray, and bring back to us the answer to our prayers. Make it your continual concern to pray for the people of God, for you were blessed by God and were made worthy to bear the Redeemer of the world, who lives and reigns forever.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spirituality: Maureen Conroy

God's touch, though taking place in a moment of time, lives on within us forever.When we experience God's love, God's self-giving, we are never the same. We may return to some of our old  ways of being and acting, but deep down within we are not the same. We can continue to let an experience of God bear fruit within us by going back to it and lingering over it. Through this remembering, lingering, and reliving process, we open ourselves to God - we allow God to move within us, to touch our hearts again so that our own experiences of God ripple deep within us and can continue to make a difference in our lives.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prayer: Mechthild of Magdeburg

O burning mountain, O chosen sun, O perfect moon, O fathomless well, O unattainable height, O clearness beyond measure, O wisdom without end, O mercy without limit, O strength beyond resistance, O crown of all majesty, the humblest you created signs your praise.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 30, 2014
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Seeing as God sees. We would all like this gift because we would know God’s will more clearly and we would not be troubled by the decisions we make on our own. Life would be much simpler if we only had the clarity of knowing what God wants for us. If we can see as God sees, we can love as God loves; yet somehow the insights of God remain obscure for much of humanity.

Examine the Lord’s choice of David as the anointed one. He was not even worthy of consideration from Jesse’s eight sons because he was the youngest, which means the least valuable, and if Jesse had any daughters, they do not even bear mentioning, which says a whole lot. However, the Lord chose David from Jesse’s kin to build his house that is to last forever. The promise of salvation arrives in the most unexpected places.

The gift of sight is equated with “true belief” in the Gospels, and the man born blind is the fortunate recipient of this gift. He aptly goes through developmental stages of belief of every believer. First, we see that he is chosen, seemingly randomly, which begs the question, “why me and not someone else?” He certainly is grateful, but it raises questions about his relationship to God. “Why now and not earlier in life?” “Did I do anything to merit this gift? If so, please tell me what I did.”

We see the reactions of neighbors to this miracle. They wonder, “how were your eyes opened, are you the same person as the one we knew before?” The implication is “why you and not me?” Some deny that he is the same person, but is someone who just appears like him. Others do not want to see anyone get ahead because, “We know from what type of family you come.” It also raises the ugly specter of the effects of sin. Surely, this man’s blindness results from something terrible his parents did. Jesus explains that sometimes accidents of birth are merely accidents and there is no underlying cause. Sin certainly disfigures the person who commits a sin, and it has insidious consequences, but sometimes imperfections result in this world for unexplained reasons. We have to work hard to understand that sin is really “a failure to even try to love.”

We see the reaction of this man’s parents: they distance themselves from him because they cannot understand what happened and they tell others to speak with him directly because he can speak for himself. It reveals that true sight allows us to stand on our own feet in contrast to the parents who do not fully understand the decision and choices of their son. When we come to new sight and insight, we often stand without the support of family and friends. Do not worry. A new family has chosen us and we have yet to discover who they are, but they are there in astonishing new ways.

When the blind man is questioned again, he does something remarkable: he teaches the elders and the Pharisees and is therefore rejected by them. He does not even mean to teach them. It naturally results from what he now understands. He simply explains what he knows and believes in light of his truth, and sadly others do not even try to understand. Their default response is to reject. Coming to sight is both invigorating, because we must speak of what we know with great authority and clarity, and isolating, because we others will remain in their small, contained world, but the only thing we can do is to move forward, onwards and upward to a new day.

Deepening one’s faith means we stand at a great distance from those who surround us and we stand closer to God and to a newer family of faith with shared values. We invariably see matters with greater comprehension, as we become God’s photographers. What new things do we see? For instance, when there is tragedy, do we only see the horror or are our eyes drawn to those who provide help to those in need? When we look out our windows each morning, do we see the strong beating effects of the sun or the varying degrees of shading that occurs when the light is refracted? In a trash-filled playground, can we see the solitary shoot of a plant that want to bring beauty against all odds to the environment? Do we only see the drama or are we able to see the underlying organization in the chaos that provides clues to future solutions? The eyes of Christ enlighten us and help us to see new possibilities for creation.

Just like the blind man that Jesus healed, we have to learn to see our surroundings in new ways. Explore it with delight. Train your eyes to be more open to God’s working within our sight because the one who seeks will find God in all things and it reorients our world. Let us pray that God will help us see with a discerning heart and a knowing mind that provides comforting insight into God’s intimate feelings for us. When we come to see God laboring in all things, when we come to love as God loves, we cannot help but proclaim our joy with our souls. Our souls cannot contain the secret that God is winning and that we are beholders of this great mystery. Our inner response is to laugh and praise.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Isaiah exclaims that a new heaven and new earth are being created – a place where there will be lasting joy and no suffering. Jerusalem will be the Lord’s delight. In Ezekiel, an angel brought Ezekiel to the Temple’s entrance where he found water flowing from beneath the threshold. The water became like a river and provided nourishment for all living things. In Isaiah, the Lord says he will help those in a time of favor. He points out the many ways he will bless the people and remind them that they are not forgotten. In Exodus, the Lord tells Moses to go down to your people and lead them because they have become depraved and have turned from the Lord to worship to calf of gold. In Wisdom, the wicked begin to plot against the righteous one to see if God delivers him from all harm. In Jeremiah, the wicked plot against the Lord and yet the righteous one trusts like a lamb who goes to his own slaughter.

Gospel: Jesus leaves Samaria for Galilee. When he arrives at the place of his first miracle, a royal official pleads for Jesus to heal his son who was near death. The man believed the words of Jesus and as the official was returning home, his servants came to meet him to say that his boy will live. Jesus goes to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews and encounters a man who was ill for thirty-eight years. He cured the man who could not fit himself into the pool, but the authorities plotted against Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. Jesus testifies that the work he does comes from the Father and that he is blessed with the Father’s gifts. He tells them that he does not work for human praise but for the glory of the Father. His work and teachings do not point to himself but to the one who is from above. Jesus moves about within Galilee because he knew the Jews in Judea were trying to kill him. He went with his brothers to the feast of Tabernacles and people know who he is because he speaks openly about God, and yet no one tries to kill him. Some in the crowd call him “The Prophet” while others call him “The Christ.” Debate ensues about whether he could be the Christ  and guards are sent to arrest him, but they cannot because they never heard anyone speak like this before. Nicodemus settles the dispute and everyone goes home to his own house.

Saints of the Week

No saints are memorialized this week.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 30, 1545: At Meliapore, Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle.
·      March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.
·      Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.
·      Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber ordained a deacon in Paris.
·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spirituality: Miriam of Nazareth

Miriam of Nazareth abides in the circle of disciples as our sister, a poor woman of the people to whom God had done great things: a young Spirit-filled Jewish woman finding her joy in God; a woman vulnerable to violence in a patriarchal setting; a friend of God who made her own difficult choices with courage; a prophet whose word announced the awesome changes God’s coming would bring about in this world; a God-bearer who had divinity dancing under her heart in developing human flesh; a married woman who with her husband toiled hard to provide for their family; a woman with a questioning mind who pondered what God was doing in the midst of her life; the mother of an itinerant preacher Jesus, terribly worried about his ministry; a middle-aged woman whose agonized grief over the public execution of her firstborn connects her with legions of bereaved women; an elder in the budding community of the church. She kept faith. We remember her. We connect her story with our own amid the searching narrative of the human race in its history of suffering and hope.

Source: Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints, page 112.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spirituality: Adolfo Nicolas

Thus, although this may surprise some, I believe that one of the primary challenges facing the Society today is that of recovering the spirit of silence. I am not thinking of disciplinary measures, fixed times of silence, going back to religious houses that look more like monasteries. Rather, I am thinking of the hearts of our men. We all need a place inside ourselves where there is no noise, where the voice of the Spirit of God can speak to us, softly and gently, and direct our discernment. In a very true sense we need the ability to become ourselves - silence, emptiness, an open space that the Word of God can fill, and the Spirit of God can set on fire for the good of others and of the Church. More than ever, every Jesuit should be able to live like a monk in the middle of the noise of the city - as an Orthodox friend of ours once said.That means that our hearts are our monasteries and at the bottom of every activity, every reflection, every decision, there is silence, the kind of silence that one shares only with God.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Prayer: Thomas Aquinas

Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal life, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my sins, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Prayer: Gertrude

O God, may you ever find me as attentive to you as you show yourself to me. Then I shall attain to that perfection to which you raise a soul that is weighed down. May I breathe my last breath in the protection of your close embrace. May my soul find itself without delay there where you are, whom no place can circumscribe, indivisible, living, and exulting in the full flowering of eternity.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Poem: "Early Morning Cliff Walk" by Barbara Ryland

Walking  early  morning
that path above the swirling sea,
I almost miss it:

 A parting silver mist
 reveals each shrub draped
 in shawls of lacy white,
 gossamer strands  hung
with drops of dazzling dew ,
each design delicate, different,
crafted by invisible spinners
sending  such ephemeral  beauty
from  hidden realms

into this  fragile web of life ."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Poem: "Written in March" by William Wordsworth

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The ploughboy is whooping – anon – anon –
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue skies are prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Third Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday in Lent
March 23, 2014
Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 51-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

All my years as a priest have taught me one thing: people thirst and are hungry and we have to find ways to nourish one another. This realization that many are thirsting for the living God in their lives determines everything else we do. Just as a parent intervenes in his children’s lives when they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, every Catholic has to become attuned to the basic needs of every person who comes to her. Questions about God arise when we are deprived of the essential elements of life.

The Israelites shepherded by Moses wonder if God has forgotten them as they wander in a dry and weary land for an undetermined time. They surmise that this God might have moved on from them and left them behind. We all want to belong and feel accepted and lots of questions arise within us when we do not know where we stand with our leaders. We grumble and complain and we are very much like the wandering Israelites whose basic needs remain unmet. And as is always the case, God provides.

The woman of Samaria that Jesus encounters has many unmet needs and she thirsts for “the more,” the magis. She is, after all, a woman, and therefore is not afforded much dignity or respect in a Middle Eastern culture. She is a foreigner to the Jews and is therefore always “an outsider,” never to belong. We can only wonder what her life was like with six men, how she was treated, why the unions did not work out, and if she had enough resources to sustain daily life in her advanced years. It certainly sounds as if life beat her up and cast her aside. Throughout her exchange with Jesus, she remains honorable and yet wonders why a righteous man is breaking so many boundaries to simply talk with her and to treat her well. For us, it is simple. Jesus sees that she is a person of need and he cares for her.

            This passage comes at the early chapters of the Fourth Gospel and one of the main themes is advanced: Jesus comes to gather up all who thirst for the Lord so he can present them to God in his final sacrifice. He breaks class, gender, social, economic, and national boundaries to include this woman into the kingdom. He presents this woman, broken down by society, as a honorable member in this new reality God is ushering in. It gives us a model to challenge our prejudices and assumptions so that we go out of our way of gathering up those who are unlike us to present them to Christ. It was uncomfortable for Jesus, as we see from the reactions of the disciples, and it is uncomfortable for us, as expressed in the exclusionary practices of family and culture, but it really is not a choice, but an imperative, for us.

            When you encounter friends and strangers on the street this week, ask yourself this question, “For what does this person thirst?” Certainly, pay attention to what the person is saying, but in the background ask yourself, “How can I provide for this person? What does she need? What does she need and lack?” You will find yourself softening inside as you attend to the most important things in life. Notice your reaction and check out your willingness to give this very person a cup of water to drink. Regardless of religion, how is this person thirsting for God? Religion, after all, is simply taking what we know of God and putting it into practice in ordinary life. It breaks all sorts of cultural boundaries that God does not adhere to anyways. Let’s win the world over by our compassion and our maturity.

            Think also about your most fundamentally thirst, that you probably hold onto without consciously knowing it. We operate out of our needs and we will move towards what we need until our thirst is quenched. Remember how good it feels when someone gives you what you need. We hold that friend or stranger in high regard in our memory because that act of kindness brought us a glimpse of God.

            Let’s do our work. Our prayer ought to consist of this. We have to let Christ ask us what we need. Our task is to tell him so he can replenish us. We need to spend more time searching out and expressing our needs so they can be met. The same Jesus who met that Samaritan woman 2,000 years ago is the one who stands before you today to ask what you need. May we be bold enough to mimic his words, “Give me a drink.” As soon as our needs are met and we praise God, we instinctively turn to others so we may give them a cup of water. The water we give is life giving and eternal because it comes from Jesus. The news of our good care to others will spread and we will participate in the work of Jesus of gathering others to himself. Many will come to Jesus because we feed them and quench their thirst. Like us and the Samaritan woman’s villagers, they will stand before him in awe and say, “You truly are the savior of the world.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In 2 Kings, Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, became a leper and he sought healing by the prophet in Samaria. The King of Israel was angered because he thought Naaman was trying to trick him, but Elisha counseled him and suggested that he come forward to find if there is a prophet in Israel. When he was cured, he praised the God of Israel and paid him homage.  ~ In the Annunciation of the Lord, Ahaz asks for a sign. The one that was given is that a virgin will conceive and bear a son and the boy will be named Emmanuel, God is with us ~ Moses speaks to the people and asks them to become an obedient people who follow the law of the Lord, which will bring them life and prosperity. It will be a sign of their intelligence. Jeremiah denounces the lawlessness of the people who have turned from the love of the Lord to their own pursuits. He claims faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech. Hosea bemoans the Israel has collapsed in its own guilt. She has acted like a harlot who turned from the Lord’s embrace, but Hosea hopes that Israel will return to her spouse. Hosea implores Israel to return to the Lord with their whole heart. Life without the Lord is not a content one.

Gospel: Jesus tells his disciples that a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. He demonstrates it by pointing out the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, but also Elisha with Naaman, the Syrian. ~ In the Annunciation of the Lord, the angel Gabriel is sent to Nazareth to console Mary, a young woman, who has been chosen to bear the Son of God. ~
Jesus tells his disciples that he has come to fulfill the law. Every part of God’s commands are to be fulfilled and the people must learn of the mercy included as part of God’s commands.
The Pharisees and Scribes tested Jesus as they ask about the source of his power. He contends that if his power was of Beelzebul, the forces of evil would fall because they would be divided against themselves. A scribe asks Jesus about the most important commandment. He summarizes the ten by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God as fully as you can; then you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus then illustrated the two kinds of people who are in the faith. The ones who love righteousness will worship in the Temple praising God that he has not made them like the others; the one who is humble will simply pray for mercy.

Saints of the Week

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

March 25: The Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the announcement that God chose to unite divinity with humanity at the conception of Jesus. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to inform her of God’s intentions to have her conceive the future Messiah. The boy’s name was to be Jesus – meaning “God saves.” This date falls nine months before Christmas Day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 23, 1772: At Rome, Cardinal Marefoschi held a visitation of the Irish College and accused the Jesuits of mismanagement. They were removed by him from the direction of that establishment.
·      March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rodolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions was Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri.
·      March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).
·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·      March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.
·      March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.

·      March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.