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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.

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