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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Poem: "Poem for Christ the King" by Pamela Cranstons

See how this homeless babe lifted
himself down into his humble Crèche 
and laid his tender glove 
of skin against that splintered wood – 
found refuge in that rack 
of raspy straw – home 
on that chilly dawn, in sweetest 
silage those shriven stalks.

See how this outcast King lifted 
himself high upon his savage Cross, 
extended the regal banner 
of his bones, draping himself 
upon his throne – his battered feet, 
his wounded hands not fastened 
there by nails but sewn 
by the strictest thorn of Love.

The Anglican, Vol. 34, No.4, October 2005

Tips from the Tree Top: Day 5

Be aware that traditions can become more like chores than meaningful rituals. Reshape them if needed; discard them if they no longer function. Traditions enrich when memories and actions of the past inspire and inspirit the present. Any valuable rite has this quality. Ask yourself, "What do I need and value now?" Be bold enough to update your traditions.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Poem: "Time after Time" by Rabindranath Tagore

Time after time I came to your gate
with raised hands, asking for more and yet more.You gave and gave, now in
slow measure, now in sudden excess.I took some, and some things I let
drop; some lay heavy on my hands;
some I made into playthings and broke
them when tired; till the wrecks and
the hoard of your gifts grew imense,
hiding you, and the ceaseless expectation
wore my heart out.Take, oh take - has now become my cry.Shatter all from this beggar's bowl;
put out the lamp of the importunate
watcher; hold my hands, raise me from
the still-gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity of your uncrowded

Tips from the Tree Top: Day 4

Others will heap their expectations for Christmas upon you. Choose what you would like to do. Check out the calendar and prepare your plans to include those events that will enhance your celebration. Family, colleagues, and friends may press you. Liberate yourself from expectations and traditions. Free yourself to create a more meaningful and enjoyable observance.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Prayer: "Christmas Shopping" by Wiederker

O God of words, dear Word made flesh,
Give birth to my thoughts,
Change them into words
That will help me to Christmas up the lives
Of those I love, for I am weak and fragile
Scared and empty this year
And still I feel you very near.

Jesus, I think I hear you coming.
I think I hear a sound that says
You’ve cared your way into my life again.

I think I see a light more lasting
Than the ones we hang on trees.
I think I see a world
That’s splashed with God again
So gospelled with his presence;
So covered with his love.
Yet, lonely still …

O shoppers, dear shoppers, put your carts away.
Please put your carts away
And search deep down within your hearts
For gifts that will not rust or fade.
For where your treasure is,
There is your heart.

O look into your God-splashed, gospelled hearts
And see! See Christmas standing there
Waiting to be, not bought,
But given free.

We are Christmas shoppers, Lord.
We are shopping for a way
To make your coming last.
O take the blind in us and hold it close.
O teach us how to see.
Decorate our lives with your vision.
For Christmas, let us see!

O shoppers, dear shoppers!
Hang lights in your hearts
Instead of on your trees.
For the One we’ve hung our hopes on
Has come, and now we’re free
But only if we see.

Jesus, we long for Christmas-eyes.
Please heal the blind in us.

For Christmas, eyes that see!

Tips from the Tree Top: Day 3

Slow down and marvel at the sparkle that surrounds you. Feast on both the simple and the grand displays. Engage your senses. Gaze upon the shimmering lights, breath in the rich aromas, hear the resonating sounds, taste the mouth-watering flavors, touch the attractive textures. Live the season fully.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Prayer: Francis de Sales

Dear Lord, we come to your sacred table to nourish ourselves, not with bread but with yourself, true bread of eternal life. Help us daily to make a good and perfect meal of this divine food. Let us be continually refreshed by the perfume of your kindness and goodness. May the Holy Spirit fill us with God’s love. Meanwhile, let us prepare a place for this holy food by emptying our hearts.

Tips from the Tree Top: Day 2

This is the season of smells and bells, of lights and sensory delights. Your senses feed your heart. As the seasonal lights sparkle around us, let them point you to the inner light of Christmas that dwells in your own heart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

First Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2014
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19, 64:2-7; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Watch. Stay attentive. Heighten your senses as we enter into this new church year and look for the new ways Christ will arrive into our world. The area that we focus our attention is the direction that we will move forward. Make certain you are looking at the things that are of Christ’s kingdom.

We have many stimuli in this Advent season of smells and bells. Popular Christmas songs are really Advent songs that look for a happy or meaningful time during the holidays. Feel free to indulge in the goodwill that emanates from them instead of judging them to be liturgically unseasonable. God’s presence is both hidden and revealed in some of these songs. We can discover God in all things. The sparkles, lights, and tantalizing colors pull us into memories of happy days. Retailers know that and look for ways to appeal to your desire to create a perfect, memorable holiday, but our awareness of the real meaning of the season gives us the choice to play around within them or to refrain from getting pulled in too far. We retain our choices. We can find God present in all our activities, if we decide to deliberately search for God’s presence. This is where we can heighten our senses to look for God.

Where do you most often notice God? How does God appear to you in your prayer? Even in your time of contemplation or meditation, you can allow to senses to brighten your prayer. If Scripture helps you compose the setting, you will be wise to add a few more details to the environment. For example, if you are having a conversation with John the Baptist about what he is experiencing about the presence of Jesus, add another person to the prayer. Maybe his mother, Elizabeth, or father, Zechariah, or one of his community members has something they want to tell you about Jesus. Give them that chance. It might be what you need to hear to have that profound conversation with Christ. Speaking about the details enhances prayer. Prayer can be as multi-dimensional as our inspired imagination allows. It happens when we bring all our senses: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing into our prayer. We notice not only what we sense, but also what we do not sense. Our senses, inside of prayer and outside, are the places where we encounter Christ, our God.

We can also train our senses. Have you noticed that some people can walk into a room and do not notice that an over-sized sofa has been removed? Then there are some people who notice that a knick-knack is half an inch out of place. Learning to heighten our senses to the details of God’s world will decide how fulfilling our prayer will be. We have to let God be other to us, and independent being who is trying thousands of ways each day to get our attention. Actively uncovering God in the details of prayer will enrich our relationship and we will become aware of the familiar way God communicates personally and individually to us.

If we are persons drawn into negativity, stop looking at these areas. If you are prone to gossip, clamp your mouth tightly and move away from those who do so. Notice instead those people who are creating positivity and chat with them instead. The direction that we fix our senses is the direction toward which we will move. Your first step is to choose where you want to go. That is the purpose of these advent readings. Be aware. Remain vigilant. Keep yourself in tune with the one you love, with the one who loves you back. Train your senses to notice God’s world and life will be refreshed.

As we notice how opulently God infuses our day, we will become like Paul as he greets the people of Corinth. He is filled with gratitude and he is honored to be in their presence for he can see the grace of God rests upon them. Grace and peace brought about by many spiritual resources. Let us wish that for one another as we being this new year. Let us heighten our senses so that we can discover, uncover, recover the reality of God’s presence in one another. Let our senses ring as the world anticipates in celebration the reality that Christ is soon coming to us in new ways. God is always near us. Let us seek God together and rejoice in what we find.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Isaiah 2) The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain. From Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 11) On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 25) On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples. We will say, “This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Thursday: (Isaiah 26) They shall sing in the land of Judah, “A strong city have we, Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.”
Friday: (Isaiah 29) They shall keep my name holy and they will see the day when the deaf hear, the blind see, the lowly find joy, and the poor rejoice.
Saturday: (Isaiah 30) People of Zion, weep no more. The Lord will be known to all the nations and everyone shall see his goodness.

Monday: (Matthew 8) A centurion approached Jesus  whose servant was lying at home paralyzed said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”
Tuesday: (Luke 10) Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike.”
Wednesday: (Matthew 15) Jesus cured the crowds and his heart was moved with pity for the crowd. He fed those who gathered with seven loaves and a few fish.
Thursday: (Matthew 7) Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Friday: (Matthew 9) Two blind men passed by Jesus and cried out, “Have pity on us.” They gained their sight because of their faith in him.     
Saturday: (Matthew 9) After preaching in many towns, Jesus called his disciples to him and summoned Twelve to be his closest friends. He gave them instructions for ministry.

Saints of the Week

November 30: Andrew, apostle (first century) was a disciple of John the Baptist and the brother of Simon Peter. Both were fishermen from Bethsaida. He became one of the first disciples of Jesus. Little is known of Andrew's preaching after the resurrection. Tradition places him in Greece while Scotland has incredible devotion to the apostle.  

December 1: Edmund Campion, S.J., (1540- 1581), Robert Southwell, S.J., (1561-1595) martyrs, were English natives and Jesuit priests at a time when Catholics were persecuted in the country. Both men acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as monarch, but they refused to renounce their Catholic faith. They are among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales. Campion was killed in 1581 and Southwell’s death was 1595.

December 3: Francis Xavier, S.J., priest (1506-1552) was a founding members of the Jesuit Order who was sent to the East Indies and Japan as a missionary. His preaching converted hundreds of thousands of converts to the faith. He died before reaching China. Xavier was a classmate of Peter Faber and Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris.

December 6: Nicholas, bishop (d. 350), lived in southwest Turkey and was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 324. Since there are many stories of his good deeds, generous charity, and remarkable pastoral care, his character became the foundation for the image of Santa Claus.

December 7: Ambrose, bishop and doctor (339-397) was a Roman governor who fairly mediated an episcopal election in Milan. He was then acclaimed their bishop even though he was not baptized. He baptized Augustine in 386 and is doctor of the church because of his preaching, teaching and influential ways of being a pastor.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 30, 1642: The birth of Br Andrea Pozzo at Trent, who was called to Rome in 1681 to paint the flat ceiling of the church of San Ignazio so that it would look as though there were a dome above. There had been a plan for a dome but there was not money to build it. His work is still on view.
·      Dec. 1, 1581: At Tyburn in London, Edmund Campion and Alexander Briant were martyred.
·      Dec. 2, 1552: On the island of Sancian off the coast of China, Francis Xavier died.
·      Dec. 3, 1563: At the Council of Trent, the Institute of the Society was approved.
·      Dec. 4, 1870: The Roman College, appropriated by the Piedmontese government, was reopened as a Lyceum. The monogram of the Society over the main entrance was effaced.
·      Dec. 5, 1584: By his bull Omnipotentis Dei, Pope Gregory XIII gave the title of Primaria to Our Lady's Sodality established in the Roman College in 1564, and empowered it to aggregate other similar sodalities.

·      Dec. 6, 1618: In Naples, the Jesuits were blamed for proposing to the Viceroy that a solemn feast should be held in honor of the Immaculate Conception and that priests should make a public pledge defend the doctrine. This was regarded as a novelty not to be encouraged.

Prayer: Thanksgiving Psalm

O come, let us sing unto the Lord:
Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.
And show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God,
And a great King above all gods.
In his hands are all the corners of the earth;
The strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it:
And his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

For he is the Lord our God:
And we are the people of his pasture
And the sheep of his hand.

Tips from the Tree Top: Day 1

Christmas is more than a date on the calendar. Society looks forward to this day since Thanksgiving with its many commercial overtures. Christians come to know Advent as the season of expectation, waiting, and preparedness. Let's reframe how we view the secular Christmas season. Think of it as a journey from darkness to light. After all, Christmas is the victory of light over darkness. It is also a journey from the chaos of our lives to a glimpse of peace; it is a journey from separateness to the union of love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Prayer for Compassion by Pedro Arrupe, SJ

Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering,to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers;
show me how you revealed your deepest emotions,
as when you shed tears,
or when you felt sorrow and anguish
to the point of sweating blood
and needed an angel to console you.
Above all, I want to learn
how you supported the extreme pain of the cross,
including the abandonment of your Father.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Poem: "What Harvest is Ever Gathered Without Your Hand?" by Hafiz

Who can turn from green to gold without your love?

What harvest is ever gathered without your hand there, Beloved, helping?

God will enter the rhythm of our prayers and remembrance but first there must be a natural repetition as we go about our holy labor, which is all work on Earth.

Graceful motion sings beyond what most pens can offer - at this beautiful feast that moves us always closer to the goal.

I am the mountains’ representative. I can speak for them on anyone's behalf, and extend all a vital link you  want with their majesty, that you can then adorn yourself with.

A king could change your life in many ways, but not half as much as an Emperor like me.
An army is a small toy in God's hand, a breath could come from Him or myself lll and it would run or fall.

Wise of you to spend time with Hafiz; something is bound to rub off. Or a flea that lives on me might bite you, and all I have - you catch

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Prayer: “Consolation and Strength amid Suffering” (Pope Francis)

Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love. By contemplating Christ’s union with the Father even at the height of his suffering on the cross (cf. Mark 15:34), Christians learn to share in the same gaze of Jesus. Even death is illumined and can be experienced as the ultimate call to faith, the ultimate “Go forth from your land” (Genesis 12:1), the ultimate “Come!” spoken by the Father, to whom we abandon ourselves in the confidence that he will keep us steadfast even in our final passage.

Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. How many men and women of faith have found mediators of light in those who suffer! So it was with St. Francis and the leper, or with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil. Faith is not a light which scatters our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it. Christ is the one who, having endured suffering, is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Source: Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), 29 June 2013, ## 56-57.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Prayer: Alcuin of York

God, go with us. Help us to be an honor to the church. Give us the grace to follow Christ’s word, to be clear in our task and careful in our speech. Give us open hands and joyful hearts. Let Christ be on our lips. May our lives reflect a love of truth and compassion. Let no one come to us and go away sad. May we offer hope to the poor and solace to the disheartened. Let us walk before God’s people, that those who follow us might come into God’s kingdom. In word and example, let your light shine in the dark like the morning star.

Friday, November 21, 2014

From “Activation of Energy” By Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Until now, one might say, men [sic] were living
both dispersed and at the same time closed in on themselves,
like passengers in a ship who have met by chance below decks
with no idea of its mobile character and its motion.
They could, accordingly, think of nothing to do on the earth
that brought them together but to quarrel or amuse themselves.
And now, by chance, or rather as a normal effect of growing older,
we have just opened our eyes.
The boldest of us have found their way to the deck.
They have seen the vessel that was carrying us along.
They have marked the creaming of her bow wave.
They have realized that there are boilers to be stoked
and a wheel to be manned.
And most important of all,
they have seen the clouds floating overhead,
they have savored the sweet scent of the Western Isles,
over the curve of the horizon:
it ceases to be the restless human to-and-fro on the same spot;
it is no longer a drifting – it is the voyage.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Selection from Santa Clara University Commencement Address, June 1982, by Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ:

Liberation theology has emphasized what the preferential option for the poor means in authentic Christianity. Such an option constitutes an essential part of Christian life - but it is also an historic obligation. For the poor embody Christ in a special way; they mirror for us his message of revelation, salvation and conversion. And they are also a universal social reality. Reason and faith merge, therefore, in confronting the reality of the poor. Reason must open its eyes to their suffering; faith - which is sometimes scandalous to those without it - sees in the weak of this world the triumph of God, for we see in the poor what salvation must mean and the conversion to which we are called...

...But we also have been encouraged by the words of Archbishop Romero - himself so soon to be murdered. It was he who said, while we were burying an assassinated priest, that something would be terribly wrong in our Church if no priest lay next to so many of his assassinated brothers and sisters. If the University had not suffered, we would not have performed our duty. In a world where injustice reigns, a university that fights for justice must necessarily be persecuted.

I would like to think - and this is the meaning I give to this honorary degree - that you understand our efforts, our mission. Something of the tragic reality that is El Salvador. And how do you help us? That is not for me to say. Only open your human heart, your Christian heart, and ask yourselves the three questions Ignatius of Loyola put to himself as he stood in front of the crucified world: What have I done for Christ in this world? What am I doing now? And above all, what should I do?