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Friday, October 31, 2014

Prayer: Gregory of Nyssa

Once every trace of evil has been abolished, everyone will be conformed to Christ and will share one radiant form that has clothed our nature from the very beginning.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Prayer: Ignatius of Antioch

All the ends of the earth, all the kingdoms of the world would be of no profit to me; to die in Jesus Christ is better than to be monarch of earth’s widest bounds. He who died for us is all I seek; he who rose again for us is my whole desire.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time
All Souls Day
November 2, 2014
Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 23; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40

“The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” These comforting words have brought consolation to many over centuries as they grieve at funerals for their loved ones. Far too often we suffer silently, but this feast is designed to make our grieving communal. It is a time when we realize that many other people are experiencing the same sort of loss as we are. It is a feast that recognizes that we hurt together, but when we touch each other’s pain we begin to heal and to bring greater meaning to the senselessness of death. When we come together we are strengthened by each other’s stories of love and care and we begin to notice God’s activity among the living and the dead.

As funerals are meant to console the living, this feast is conceived as a resource to make us aware of the “live” presence of our deceased loved ones who hold an active part of our life. They are alive to God and to us in a unique way and they shall never be forgotten. Just as we can know that Christ, Mary, or particular saints are responsible for certain events in our day, we become aware that our special loved ones are similarly interceding, not just in heaven but on earth. It gives us great comfort because we come to know that the life beyond this earth has continuity with this life, that there is great activity in heaven, and this activity is intended to unite us to one another, not just with our deceased, but with one another.

Unity within the church is a primary concern. You will find reference to unity in many liturgical prayers during mass because the early church members knew that we needed to encourage one another to understand the rich nuances of the faith. If we do not stand together, we are vulnerable to attacks from the evil spirits and from those who do not want to understand our majestic tradition. With this in mind, it is disturbing that there is pronounced dissension within the church among Traditionalists, Centrists, and Progressives. The tone and rhetoric is likened to a political campaigner whose goal is to destroy the opponent. This is not the way of Jesus Christ. This is the wrong way to go forward.

In light of this feast, we need to look upon one another to see that their journey to Christ might take a different path than our own. That is O.K. We need to respect where another person is and how it is they want to pursue holiness. In the mode of Pope Francis, we have to withhold judging and making sweeping statements about righteousness. What gives us the right to judge another person? That domain belongs to Christ. The better question to ask is, “Is the person becoming a more loving person?”

Inherent with the debate among the factions of the church is great pain. Traditionalists hold great pain amidst their hope for the church. So do Centrists, as well as Progressives. The tendency is to scold, correct, impose, and to exclude. That is not the way forward. The trick is to be able to touch the pain of others so that our comprehension increases. When we understand the suffering of another, we treat one another better and we refrain from hurting them more deeply. We respect where the “other” is and we are able to treat our brother or sister with due reverence because we who suffer stand in solidarity with other vulnerable sufferers.

The disappointment in these culture wars and church battles is that we focus upon one another’s political stance. We fail to see the Christian at the core. Our important issues become our significant focus and we simply fail to see or respect Christ. We no longer look to God because we are looking at our and our opponent’s positions. We need to raise our eyes and look for God as the first, middle, and last activities of our day. If we do this, then we will agree with Jesus as he speaks to the crowds in the Fourth Gospel when he says, “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my will but the will of the one who sent me.” God’s will, he continues, “is that I should not lose anything of what he gave me.”

We are Christians. Let us learn to no longer reject our brothers and sisters whose journey may take them on a path that is different from our own. Let us replace this rejection with welcome and acceptance, just as God will not reject anyone who comes to Jesus. We can learn from one another when we reach out to our brothers and sisters and say, “Tell me about your pain. Tell me about your struggle and chaos.” We begin to stand in solidarity with others who are different from us, and we find they are more similar than we imagined. Let us strive for unity that comes from a faith that seeks to understand and we will find great comfort that we are the communion of saints and that God truly is among us. Our souls are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch us. Let us be at peace.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Philippians 2) Be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of vainglory or selfishness and humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.  
Tuesday: Have among yourselves the same attitude as Jesus Christ who did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Wednesday: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for God is the one who works in you both to desire and to work. Rejoice and share my joy.
Thursday: Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider as a loss because of Christ. I consider everything a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Friday: Join with others in being imitators of me and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a savior.
Saturday: Dear Thessalonians, you have stood by me when others did not. I am well supplied because of what I received from you, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  

Monday: (Luke 14) When Jesus went to dine at the home of a leading Pharisee, he said, “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Blessed you will be because of their inability to repay you.”
Tuesday: At the table Jesus told a parable about a man who gave a great dinner to which many were invited, but few showed. The man said to his servant, “Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.”
Wednesday: Great crowds followed Jesus. He turned to them and said, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Thursday: Tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to listen to Jesus and the Pharisees began to complain. There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Friday: A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. The condemned man set to work to resolve many of the debts and the master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently to make amends.   
Saturday:  Make friends for yourself with dishonest wealth so that when it fails you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The one who is trustworthy is very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.

Saints of the Week

November 2: All Souls Day is the commemoration of the faithful departed. November is known as All Souls Month. We remember those who died as we hasten towards the end of the liturgical year and the great feast of Christ the King. As a tradition, we have always remembered our dead as a way of keeping them alive to us and giving thanks to God for their lives.

November 3: Rupert Mayer, S.J., priest (1876-1945), resisted the Nazi government and died while saying Mass of a stroke. In 1937, he was placed in protective custody and was eventually released when he agreed that he would no longer preach.

November 3: Martin de Porres, religious (1579-1639) was a Peruvian born of a Spanish knight and a Panamanian Indian woman. Because he was not pure blood, he lost many privileges in the ruling classes. He became a Dominican and served the community in many menial jobs. He was known for tending to the sick and poor and for maintaining a rigorous prayer life.

November 4: Charles Borromeo, bishop (1538-1584), was made Bishop of Milan at age 22. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was a leading Archbishop in the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent. During a plague epidemic, Borromeo visited the hardest hit areas so he could provide pastoral care to the sick.

November 5: All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus are remembered by Jesuits on their particularized liturgical calendar. We remember not only the major saints on the calendar, but also those who are in the canonization process and hold the title of Blessed. We pray for all souls of deceased Jesuits in our province during the month by using our necrology (listing of the dead.)

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 2, 1661. The death of Daniel Seghers, a famous painter of insects and flowers.
·      Nov 3, 1614. Dutch pirates failed to capture the vessel in which the right arm of Francis Xavier was being brought to Rome.
·      Nov 4, 1768. On the feast of St Charles, patron of Charles III, King of Spain, the people of Madrid asked for the recall of the Jesuits who had been banished from Spain nineteen months earlier. Irritated by this demand, the king drove the Archbishop of Toledo and his Vicar General into exile as instigators of the movement.
·      Nov 5, 1660. The death of Alexandre de Rhodes, one of the most effective Jesuit missionaries of all time. A native of France, he arrived in what is now Vietnam in 1625.
·      Nov 6, 1789. Fr. John Carroll of Maryland was appointed to be the first Bishop of Baltimore.
·      Nov 7, 1717. The death of Antonio Baldinucci, an itinerant preacher to the inhabitants of the Italian countryside near Rome.

·      Nov 8, 1769. In Spain, Charles III ordered all of the Society's goods to be sold and sent a peremptory demand to the newly-elected Pope Clement XIV to have the Society suppressed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

People go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without marveling.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

Prayer is not just spending time with God. No, prayer is dynamic. Authentic prayer changes us – unmasks us – indicates where growth is needed. Authentic prayer never leads to complacency, but needles us – makes us uneasy at times. It leads us to true self-knowledge, to true humility.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Prayer: John Paul II

In the Twentieth Century, especially since the Council, there has been a great development in the way the Christian community celebrates the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. It is necessary to continue in this direction and to stress particularly the Sunday Eucharist and Sunday itself, experienced as a special day of faith, the day of the risen Lord and of the gift of the Spirit, the true weekly Easter.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Prayer: A Blessing

Blessed be the yearning that brought you here and quickens your soul with wonder. May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease and discomfort to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May your expressions of love, creativity, and friendship be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.

May a secret providence nurture and express your feelings and guide your thought onward and upward to the ways of freedom, peace, happiness, and new life.

May you know deep in your hearts that we all remain connected through the love of Christ through his Eucharist and that we will never part from him or one another.

May the one you long for long for you. May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you. May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bless you and remain with you forever. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Prayer: "We need one another" by George Odell

We need one another when we mourn and want comfort.

We need one another when we are in trouble and are afraid.

We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.

We need one another when we strive to accomplish some great purpose, and realize we cannot do it alone.

We need one another in the hour of success, when we look for someone to share triumphs.

We need one another in the hour of defeat, when with encouragement we try to endure, and stand again.

We need one another when we come to die and seek gentle hands to prepare us for the journey.

All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spirituality: Richard Rohr, "The Gate of Heaven"

Francis of Assisi knew that if you can accept that the finite manifests the infinite, and that the physical is the doorway to the spiritual (which is the foundational principle we call “incarnation”), then all you need is right here and right now—in this world. This is the way to that! Heaven includes earth. Time opens you up to the timeless, space opens you up to spacelessness, if you only recognize them as the clear doorways that they are.
There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments—and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it.
The Christ Mystery refuses to be vague or abstract, and it is always concrete and specific. When we stay with these daily apparitions, we see that everything is a revelation of the divine—from rocks to rocket ships. Our only blindness is our own lack of fascination, humility, curiosity, awe. The only thing needed is a willingness to surrender to the naked now which God always inhabits, where the incarnation is always taking place and always mysterious, where God in every moment is perfectly hidden and at the same time perfectly revealed. Hold that paradox together. Those who have eyes to see can allow both to be true.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 26, 2014
Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40

Last week in Scripture, Jesus elevated the behavioral choices of the Pharisees when they presented him Caesar’s coin. He urged them to give up their inclination to fight and to choose the way of mercy. Jesus then silenced the Sadducees with his wisdom to which they took offense because they could plainly see they were wrong – a grave offense. Therefore, the Pharisees reconvened in order to trip him up under the guise of politeness. They returned to fight a fiercer battle. They tested him by asking, “What is the foundation of the faith?” to which Jesus replies, “a whole-hearted commitment to merciful love.”

Perhaps the Pharisees were not expecting Jesus to get to the core so swiftly. They would have agreed with him if he said “the law and the prophets” because they cling to tradition and authority so tightly, but he deepened the discussion by reducing it to its most elemental underpinnings – our merciful love for God, which without any further thought naturally includes our neighbors. The same debate the church experiences today is the same internal debate that has existed for millennia. Traditionalists want to preserve the rules and their position while Centrists and Progressives see mercy as the foundation of the laws and traditions. In Rome this week, stories of bishops at odds with one another about matters dealing with the complex situations of family life continue to show that the discussion continues with vigor. God’s commands are made explicit to the newly released Jewish exiles from Egypt in the Exodus first reading: welcome the foreigner and stranger, treat the marginalized with utmost care, rectify any wrongs you’ve created, act justly in business dealings, honor your debts, treat everyone with honor and respect. Love and mercy are the bases for all laws.

The problem that arises is people think that mercy and kindness are positions of weakness. Some people will instantly take advantage of a person they consider weak and their forcefulness in pursuing their issue increases. Mercy seems defenseless against hostility and malicious plotting. Exploitation and bullying of the one who is kind increases to the point that the kind one is forced to lash out back to the mean offender. Love and mercy seems to have no chance against the stronger, harsher one.

Love will win out. Love is patient. It may take longer and it will endure many battle scars, but love and kindness endures. The love of Jesus led him to the Cross-where it seemed that violence and hatred won, but we know better. Love meets suffering with compassion. Mercy has its own strength that is detectable almost imperceptibly, but it continues to resonate with those who experience the radiating flow of this goodness.

When you are in the face of adversity, let your mercy for others rule even if others are going to attack you. Restrain yourself. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is the prudent, God-guiding course we are to take. Remember that you are not alone. Others will see your good actions. Reach out to them to cement your bonds of friendship. We have not yet tapped into mercy’s power. As the People of God, we have rich resources at our disposal that we have not even considered, but when we begin to use them, we will be justified in the grace we both receive from God and give to others. Place your trust in God and avert your eyes from those who are trying to fight you and define you through their actions. You will find your compassion increases to the point that it includes them.

This summarizes what Paul saw happen to the Thessalonians. They became imitators of God, and they received the word in great affliction, but also with joy from the Holy Spirit. They became a model community for all believers whose example could be seen across the region – and everywhere they went. Trust in the goodness of others around you and support them when you see them standing up for mercy. It is the way forward for the church and the world. They need to know they stand in a community of faith and that the aggregate of their faith has greater power than they can envision. It certainly has more power than force, violence, or unjust laws. Help them see long term. Encourage them to persevere – onwards and upwards – to a future that is characterized by the enduring legacy of our loving responses to one another. Let us stand together so the world can see the captivating mystery of our love.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Ephesians 4) Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you. Be imitators of God, and live in love, as Christ loved us.
Tuesday: You are not longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Wednesday: Children, obey your parents. Fathers, bring up your children with instruction of the Lord. Slaves be obedient to your masters, but be as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving God and not humans, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does. Masters, act in the same way and stop bullying.
Thursday: Draw your strength from the Lord. Put on the armor of God so that you can stand firm against the Devil’s tactics. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
Friday: I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy because of the partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now.
Saturday: I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. A multitude of angels stood before the Lamb and cried out, “Salvation comes from our God who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.”  

Monday: (Luke 13) Jesus was teaching in a synagogue when he spotted a woman who was crippled for eighteen years. He freed her from her infirmity, but many became indignant because he healed on the Sabbath.
Tuesday: (Luke 6) Jesus went up a mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer. When day came, he called his disciples and from them chose Twelve.
Wednesday: (Luke 13) Jesus passed through many towns and villages as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Will only a few people be saved?” He told them to be vigilant for no one knows the time or the hour.
Thursday: Pharisees came to Jesus and told him to go away because Herod wants to kill him. He replied that he must continue along his way for a prophet must not die outside of Jerusalem. Then he wept for the holy city.
Friday: On a Sabbath, Jesus dined with a leading Pharisee and a man with dropsy appeared. Jesus asked if it was permissible to heal on the Sabbath. He healed him while everyone kept silent.  
Saturday:  (Matthew 5: All Souls Day) Jesus went up a mountain before the crowds and sat down. He began to teach them and gave them the Beatitudes.

Saints of the Week

October 28: Simon and Jude, apostles (first century) were two of the Twelve Disciples called by Jesus, but little is known about them. We think they are Simon the Zealot and Judas, the son of James. Simon was most likely a Zealot sympathizer who would have desired revolution against Rome; Jude is also called Thaddeus, and is patron saint of hopeless causes. Both apostles suffered martyrdom.

October 30: Dominic Collins, S.J., priest and martyr (1566-1602), was a Jesuit brother who was martyred in his native Ireland. He became a professional solider in the Catholic armies of Europe after the Desmond Rebellion was put down in 1583. He joined the Jesuits in 1584 at Santiago de Compostela and was sent back to Ireland in 1601 with a Spanish contingent. He was captured, tried for his faith, and sentenced to death.

October 31: Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1532-1617) was widowed at age 31. When his three children died, Alphonsus joined the Jesuits as a lay brother at age 40 after attempting to complete the rigors of study. He was sent to the newly opened college in Majorca where he served as a porter for 46 years. His manner of calling people to sanctification was extraordinary. He served obediently and helped others to focus on their spiritual lives.

October 31: All Hallows Eve (evening) owes its origins to a Celtic festival that marked summer's end. The term was first used in 16th century Scotland. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor people would go door to door on Hallomas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2.)

November 1: All Saints Day honors the countless faithful believers - living and dead - who have helped us along in our faith. Our liturgical calendar is filled with canonized saints, but we have many blesseds and minor saints who no longer appear on it. We have local saints across the world. We have many people who live Gospel values who we appreciate and imitate. We remember all of these people on this day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.
·      Oct 27, 1610. The initial entrance of the Jesuits into Canada. The mission had been recommended to the Society by Henry IV.
·      Oct 28, 1958. The death of Wilfrid Parsons, founder of Thought magazine and editor of America from 1925 to 1936.
·      Oct 29, 1645. In the General Chapter of the Benedictines in Portugal, a statement published by one of their order, that said St Ignatius had borrowed the matter in his Spiritual Exercises from a Benedictine author, was indignantly repudiated.
·      Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.
·      Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.

·      Nov 1, 1956. The Society of Jesus was allowed in Norway.