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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Prayer: John XXIII

What have I done for Christ? Little, little or nothing.

What am I doing for Christ? Something, but badly, like a sluggard.

What should I do for Christ? Everything, O Lord, if you but help me with your holy grace. God is all: I am nothing. Let this do for today.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Prayer: Dominic

May God the Father who made us bless us. May God the Son send his healing among us. May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hands that your work may be done. May we walk and preach the word of God to all. May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last by God’s grace to the kingdom.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Prayer: Thomas a Kempis

Lord, you know what is best; let this be done or that be done as you please. Give what you will, as much as you will, when you will. Do with me as you know best, as will most please you, and will be for your greater honor. Place me where you will, and deal with me freely in all things. I am in your hand; turn me about whichever way you will. Behold, I am your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for you – would that I could do this worthily and perfectly.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prayer: Cyril of Alexandria

Hail, Mary, mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole universe, lamp that is never extinguished, crown of virginity, support of the true faith, indestructible temple, dwelling of him whom no place can contain. O mother, through you all the holy gospels call blessed the One who comes in the name of the Lord.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Prayer: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage, and strength to serve you. Enkindle your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Poem: “On Hope” By Sir Walter Raleigh (English, 1552 – 1618)

Even such time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days,
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.

Sir Walter Raleigh is believed to have written this poem on the Tower of London on the night before his execution.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 28, 2014
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32

Each of us has a particular worldview and fundamental attitude towards life. Some are optimists; others fear to engage with the world; some are defensive and protective; some attitudes have been tarnished because life has beaten them down. We have guiding principles and mantras that keep us going forward during challenging times, even though we may not be consciously aware of those life ethics, but our social and cultural contexts shape the way we develop our baseline attitudes in life.

Scripture examines these attitudes this week and respectfully asks to consider adjusting yours if needed. In Ezekiel’s letter, the Lord challenges the people by asking, “Who is it that told you my way is not fair? Look at your ways. They are unfair to many.” Then the Lord points out that everyone is to look inward to see if they are on a path to perdition. If so, they are to turn away from sin because even the most wicked person can gain eternal life. One’s change of heart is what matters to God. Let it always move towards right relations.

Matthew’s Gospel provides an example of a conversion of heart. I always preach the virtues of saying, “Yes,” but of course, it must be followed by a commitment to honor your word. In this case, the son who says “No” is the admirable one. He speaks about what he does not want and is true to his word, but he later has a change of heart and honors his father’s goals and seeks to help him out. The son who said “No” became conscious of others while the son who said “Yes” simply focused upon himself and did only what he wants. Jesus takes this further in order to explain to the Jews that they are the sons who said “Yes” but become self-focused, while those they discarded from their religion initially said “No” and had a profound change of heart. A seismic shift occurred in their religion. The ones who were on the outside looking in are now at the very center of the faith, and they come to it with wisdom, compassion, prudence, and open-armed hospitality.

Paul in Philippians tells us that we are to adopt the same attitude that is in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we are not to be selfish because we regard others as equally important as ourselves and that we do not only look to our interests, but we look to promote the common good.

The idea of the common good is important to consider because many times we give away our self-interests for the desires of another who is only self-interested. Be cautious about this because we do not want to enable the poor behavior of others or to let the ‘giving’ part of the relationships be tilted too much in one direction. If we are always giving without getting reciprocal adequate respect, we have to pause so we can evaluate (a.) the relationship, or (b.) my patterns of this particular relationship. Each has to look out for the interests of others and if my relationship partner is not as concerned for me as I am for the other, I have to ask myself some questions and perhaps make adjustments.

Especially as I wake up in the morning, I need to ask myself, “How do I feel about my job, marriage or relationship, my hope for the future?” If I am dissatisfied, I then wonder if I need something to change my attitude. For instance, falling in love with my spouse or partner or my community is an every morning choice. Committing wholeheartedly to my job is something I have to renew periodically. Caring for a family member whose behavior is dysfunctional requires something greater out of me and I have to choose how to care enough about the person to stay in the relationship. With our attitude, we always retain the freedom to choose. Our prayer has to be, “What is going to be most effective for making me the person God wants me to be? How can I contribute to the betterment of my own world?”

Adopting the attitudes of Christ means we learn the see others as he sees them. Christ has a different point of view from us and he have to ask him how he experiences another person. We need to spend time in private prayer letting him reveal his mind, heart, and attitudes towards us so our worldview can be enlarged. If we want compassion in the world, our behaviors must be compassionate. If we want kindness, we have to be kind. Take some time this week to evaluate where you are and where you want to go. I promise you that you will get there. Let us encourage one another in Christ too. Let us gently, slowly, deliberately move towards living in the quiet joy of Christ who is rich in mercy and compassion and calls forth the best from us. Let his mind, values, and attitudes seep into your soul. You will be very happy with the person you are becoming.

 Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 7 – Archangels) As Daniel watches the holy liturgy in heaven, he sees the Ancient One take his throne and all the powers and principalities and angels serve and worship the Lord.
Tuesday: (Job 3 - Jerome) Job opened his mouth and curses the day saying, “Why did I not perish at birth?” Why must I suffer such a fate?
Wednesday: (Job 9 – Therese of Lisieux) Job answers his friends, “How can a person be justified before God?” The power imbalance is wide and God would not choose to contend with him.
Thursday: (Job 19 – Guardian Angel) Job said, “Pity me, my friends, for the hand of God has struck me! Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey upon me?”
Friday: (Job 38) The Lord addressed Job: Have you commanded the morning, enter the sources of the sea, seen the gates of hell, comprehended the breadth of the earth? Job answers, “I am of little account. I put my hand over my mouth and I will speak no more.”
Saturday: (Job 42 – Francis of Assisi) Job answers, “I know you can do all things. I disown what I have said and repent in dust and ashes.”

Monday: (John 1 - Archangels) Nathaniel saw Jesus and exclaimed, “Here is a true child of Israel.” Jesus replied, “In this man, there is not duplicity.” He then said, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Tuesday: Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, but when he and his disciples entered a Samaritan village, they would not receive them because the destination of their journey was Jerusalem.
Wednesday: (Luke 9) A disciple said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go,” and Jesus replies, “Foxes have dens and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Thursday: The disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and Jesus pulled a child to himself and said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
Friday: Jesus exclaimed, “Woe to you, Chorazin and Bethsaida. If the deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
Saturday:  The seventy-two disciples return to Jesus rejoicing at the events done in his name. Jesus gives thanks to his father and then blesses his disciples.

Saints of the Week

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.

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 Jesus, doctor (1515-1582), entered the Carmelites in Avila and became disenchanted with the laxity of the order. She progressed in prayer and had mystical visions. She introduced stricter reforms through her guidance of John of the Cross and Peter Alcantara. They founded the Discalced Carmelites for men and women.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.
·      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).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayer: John Vianney

Life is short. If you defer changing your ways until the hour of your death, you are blind, for you do not know either the time or the place where you will die. If we desire a good death, we must lead a Christian life.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prayer: Anselm of Canterbury

Lord, Jesus Christ, let me seek you by desiring you, and let me desire you by seeking you. Let me find you by loving you and love you by finding you. I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving, that I am made in your image, so that I can remember you, think of you, and love you. I do not seek to understand so that I can believe, but believe so that I may understand. And, what is more, I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of your wings. Protect us and bear us up. You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age. When you are our strength, we are strong; but when we are our own strength, we are weak. Our good always lives in your presence, and we suffer when we turn our faces from you. We now return to you, O Lord, that we may never turn away again.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Prayer: A Psalm of Betrayal

If this had been done by an enemy
I could bear his taunts.
If a rival had risen against me,
I could hide from him.

But it is you, my own companion,
my intimate friend!
How close was the friendship between us.
We walked together in harmony
in the house of God.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Prayer: Francis de Sales

Fear is the first temptation that the enemy presents to those who have resolved to serve God, for soon as they are shown what perfection requires of them, they think, “Alas, I shall never be able to do it.” But you are armed and encompassed with the truth of God and with God’s word. Having called you, God will strengthen you and will give you the grace to persevere.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From"A Fire that Kindles Other Fires" - Decree 2 of the Society of Jesus' General Congregation 35:

While at Manresa, Ignatius had an experience at the river Cardoner that opened his eyes so that "all things seemed new to him" because he began to see them with new eyes. Reality became transparent to him, enabling him to see God working in the depths of everything and inviting him to "help souls." This new view of reality led Ignatius to seek and find God in all things.

The understanding that Ignatius received taught him a contemplative way of standing in the world, of contemplating God at work in the depths of things, of tasting "the infinite sweetness and charm of the divinity, of the soul, of its virtues and of everything there." Starting from the contemplation of the incarnation it is clear that Ignatius does not sweeten or falsify painful realities. Rather he begins with them, exactly as they are - poverty, forced displacement, violence between people, abandonment, structural injustice, sin - but then he points to how God's Son was born into these realities; and it is here that sweetness is found.

Tasting and seeing God in reality is a process. Ignatius had to learn this himself through many painful experiences. At La Storta he received the grace to be placed with the Son bearing the Cross; and so he and his companions were drawn into the Son's pattern of life, with its joys and with its sufferings. Similarly today the Society, in carrying out its mission, experiences the companionship of the Lord and the challenge of the Cross. Commitment to "the service of faith and the promotion of justice," to dialogue with cultures and religions, takes Jesuits to limit-situations where they encounter energy and new life, but also anguish and death - where "the Divinity is hidden."

The experience of a hidden God cannot always be avoided, but even in the depths of darkness when God seems concealed, the transforming light of God is able to shine. God labors intensely in this hiddenness. Rising from the tombs of personal life and history, the Lord appears when we least expect, with his personal consolation as a friend and as the center of a fraternal and servant community.

From this experience of God laboring in the heart of life, our identity as "servants of Christ's mission" rises up ever anew.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 21, 2014
Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16

Everyday when we rise, we have to consider the first and the last things, the goal and purpose of our lives, because it puts all other activities of the day into perspective. It quickly resolves the conflict that is presented in today’s Gospel and it gives us a bird’s eye wisdom about life. It helps us to frame our day with this question, “Do my choices and actions reveal to others that I am growing in love and kindness?”

Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near.” This searching with the sure expectation of discovering is what matters most. When we recognize the Lord’s presence, we follow the inspiration of the Psalmist, “Every day I will bless you and I will praise your name forever.” Gratitude is a certain sign of God’s closeness. Then we find we become like Paul when he tenderly writes, “I long to be with Christ.” “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ.” Of all the evangelists, Paul speaks most affectionately of his desire to be with his friend and Lord, revealing a most important aspect of his character and worldview.

The Gospel presents us with a dilemma of fairness that we all face. We always aspire to be fair because those are high-minded principles taught to us since our youth and we mediate legal conflicts judiciously – showing great concerns for all parties, yet very little in life is fair. As you well know, Jesus teaches this parable to his fellow Jews in an attempt to explain that sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and foreigners have an essential place in God’s kingdom. Is it fair to a law-abiding Jew who has kept all the laws since youth? No. This is not the crucial factor. God’s generosity is the factor by which this conflict is adjudicated. Inclusive hospitality supersedes fairness and is more virtuous. This might not sit well with a people who consider themselves “God’s chosen ones,” but God deeply yearns for all people regardless of any characteristic or prior actions.

Think of the many ways we feel affronted by unfairness, whether it is a colleague who receives a higher salary for lesser abilities, or the reckless son receives more than he deserves in a will, or a carefree neighbor that takes an easy way out of a financial situation and seemingly gets rewarded. We harbor resentments from these situations and we cannot forget them easily because we strive diligently for justice and equality and the world is not fair. Often, unfair decisions do not favor us and that ‘frosts our cupcakes.’

Sinners and prostitutes were given a chance to begin their lives again. The Jews grumbled, but other souls were saved because of God’s generosity. Unfair decisions to us have a very positive effect upon the person who benefits from the ruling. We can never know how the person will evolve as they sit in gratitude of the ruling. This is mystery. The entire point of the Gospel is to give us eternal life.

Let us move past the point of seeking fairness, but turn the question to, “Am I getting what I need?” Each day gives us a series of intrusions like the bully who cuts the cash register line or we feel threatened by the speeding, impatient driver. Choose justice if you need to, but that is not the solution. You also can choose tolerance, compassion, or kindness because we always have choices. Do not let yourself be a passive doormat, but you can let someone’s rude behavior go because what matters is our pursuit of God’s abiding presence. We possess what others want. If our actions are loving, welcoming, kind, and forgiving, then Christ is being magnified in our souls.

Daily life has many demands on our time and not all of us can rise each morning and take half an hour to pray because kids have to get to school, diapers need changing, mouths need to be fed, or a project has to be finished. Daily routines are exhausting and permit little time for self-care. Simply be gentle to yourself. We are not always going to act as we like, but let us give ourselves credit for conducting ourselves worthy of the Gospel more than we do. We can worry less about the petty squabbles around us because we will get what we need, in light of the world’s unfairness. We are bigger people than that and we know God is generous to a fault. It is up to us to choose to live in God’s generosity where we will understand little, but we will know God cares for us bring new vitality to our actions. Living gratefully helps Christ be magnified in our souls. We will be kinder, more gracious, and filled with a more comprehensive wisdom because we will understand what matters most. You will find God more often than you seek.

 Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Proverbs 3) Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim. Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives at peace with you. Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways.
Tuesday: (Proverbs 21) To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord. The soul of the wicked man desires evil; the just man appraises the house of the wicked.
Wednesday: (Proverbs 30) Every word of God is tested. Put falsehood and lying behind me and provide me only with the food I need.
Thursday: (Ecclesiastes 1) Vanity of vanities. What does it profit a man from his labors at which he toils under the sun? Nothing is new under the sun.
Friday: (Ecclesiastes 3) There is an appointed time for every. What advantage has the worker from his toil? The Lord has made everything appropriate to its time and has put the timeless into their hearts.  
Saturday: (Ecclesiastes 11) Rejoice, O young one, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes. Remember your Creator.

Monday: (Luke 8) No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.
Tuesday: The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowds. Jesus replies, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Wednesday: (Luke 9) Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Thursday: Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening. He asked, “Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
Friday: When Jesus was praying in solitude and the disciples were with him, he asked, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
Saturday:  While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying.

Saints of the Week

September 21: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.

September 22: Tomas Sitjar, S.J. and the martyrs of Valencia (1866-1936), were killed in the Spanish Civil War just a week after the war broke out. Sitjar was the Rector of Gandia and was formerly the novice director and metaphysics professor. The Jesuit Order was suppressed at the beginning of the war, which sent the men to disperse into apartments, but since the community knew them, they were sought out, imprisoned, and later executed because of their belief in God.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
·      Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
·      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.