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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Selections from Pope Francis' 2013 Chrism Mass Homily:

We need to "go out," then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the "outskirts" where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.

The priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little - I won't say "not at all" because, thank God, the people take the oil from us anyway - misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, "has already received his reward," and since he doesn't put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. 

This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad - sad priests - in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with "the odour of the sheep." This I ask you: be shepherds, with the "odour of the sheep," make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men. True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to "put out into the deep," where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is "unction" - not function - and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jesus' Prayer for Peter and God's Free Gift from "Journeying with the Lord: Reflections for Everyday" by Cardinal Carlos Maria Martini, SJ:

Like a cold shower, the words of Jesus strike Peter: "'Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.' 'Lord,' he answered, 'I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death.' Jesus replied, 'I tell you, Peter, by the time the cock crows today you will have denied three times that you know me' " (Lk 22:31-34).

How does Peter take these important words: "You must strengthen your brothers"?

Evidently, he assumes that he is capable of assuming the responsibility that the message contains: "Lord, I am ready to go with You to face prison and death." Because we know what happens next, we think of how presumptuous Peter is in making such claims. But the words are so beautiful; words that every Christian should be able to affirmatively say. So, what is bad about them, which will help us to understand how Peter fell? Peter truly expresses what he feels, but it's clear that he didn't hear what Jesus was telling him: "Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon." If Peter had heard this, he would have said: "Lord, thank You for praying for me. I am so weak; I can do so little. Stay near to me." Instead, Peter takes the task on as a privilege which he can handle by his own strength. He misses that the task can only be accomplished through the gift of the Lord. He thus sets himself up for his fall. In fact, the Gospel is precisely the free gift of God. It's the salvation that God freely gives to the sinner. When we receive it with a grateful spirit, with humility and just recognition of its source, we are in our proper place. We can thus begin to appropriate it, digest it and control any situation. Peter thinks he is not afraid, yet his pride comes from his fear of the cross. He is sincere, but his fault lies in his desire to be first. In a theological sense, we could say that he wants to be the Lord's savior.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Poem: "Blind Man's Testimony" by John Hay, in Elon Foster, Cyclopedia of Poetry

He stood before the Sanhedrim;
The scowling rabbis gazed at him;
He recked not of their praise or blame;
There was no fear, there was no shame,
For one upon whose dazzled eyes
The whole world poured its vast surprise;
The open heaven was far too near,
His first day’s light too sweet and clear,
To let him waste his new-found ken
On the hate-clouded face of men.

But they still questioned: Who art thou?
What hast thou been? What art thou now?
Thou art not he who yesterday
Sat here and begged beside the way;
for he was blind.
- And I am he,
For I was blind, but now I see.

He told the story o’er and o’er;
It was his full heart’s only lore;
A prophet on the Sabbath-day
Had touched his sightless eyes with clay,
And made him see who had been blind.

Their words passed by him like the wind
Which raves and howls, but cannot shock
The hundred-fathomed-rooted rock.

Their threats and fury all went wide;
They could not touch his Hebrew pride,
Their sneers at Jesus and His band,
Nameless and homeless in the land,
Their boasts of Moses and his Lord,
All could not change him by one word.

I know not what this man may be,
Sinner or saint; but as for me
One thing I know, that I am he
That once was blind, but now I see.

They were all doctors of renown,
The great men of a famous town,
With deep brows, wrinkled, broad and wise
Beneath their wide phylacteries;
The wisdom of the East was theirs;
And honor crowned their silver hairs.

The man they jeered and laughed to scorn
Was unlearned, poor, and humbly born;
But he knew better far than they
What came to him that Sabbath-day;
And what the Christ had done for him
He knew, and not the Sanhedrim.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Poem: “A Prayer in Spring” By Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts at night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Poem: “Woman, behold your son!” “Son, behold your mother!” By Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

Battered, bruised, torn and blistered,
bloodied by vicious thorns, the sting of the whip,
and by the terrible weight of wood,
our Saviour was finally “straightened out,”
stripped of comfort,
un-bent of any illusions
upon the rack of the scandalous cross.
Looking down, arms outstretched,
contorted like a question mark
between heaven and earth,
he beheld his mother and his beloved disciple.
“Woman,” he said, “this is your son.”
Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.”
And his mother, beholding him,
the one she had cradled,
felt the thrust of Simeon’s sword
pierce her womb
like bitter labor pangs
and, as her time drew near –
the time of death, not birth –
the disciple clung to her,
his mother, the mother of sorrows,
the mother of us all …

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spirituality: The Discernment of Spirits

In the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, we see that we and all creatures belong to God. All is gift. All is goodness in itself. Our primary response to God is thanksgiving, praise, and a desire to serve God in others. We can also see that because of inner unfreedom, we can use God’s gifts selfishly. Our goal is to grow in inner freedom so as to choose to be more loving people.

Sin: In some of our prayers, we face sin as a movement toward selfishness and away from God. Sin can be defined as a failure to even try to love. Sin is ancient (Adam and Eve) and pervasive (read the newspapers). We all share in sin (social and systemic in our institutions) and we will always be enticed by the evil spirits to sin. We also see more deeply that God continues to love us, that we are loved sinners. This is a foundational grace for Ignatius: I am a sinner loved by God.

Love and sin indicate the presence of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit struggling for our souls. How do we know which one is acting upon us?

1.     If a sinner moves to more sin, the Evil Spirit gives pleasure, but the Good Spirit stings the conscience with remorse.
2.     If a good person moves to being better, the Evil Spirit causes gnawing anxieties, sadness, and sets up obstacles, while the Good Spirit stirs up courage, consolation, tears, inspiration, and tranquility.

a.     moves to being inflamed with love of God.
b.     Moves to tears out of love for God or grief for sin.
c.      Moves to every increase of faith, hope, and love, and every interior joy.

a.     moves to darkness and disturbance of the soul.
b.     Moves to the low and earthly.
c.      Moves to anxiety arising from various agitations and temptations.
d.     Moves to a lack of faith, hope, and love.

Joy is not the same as consolation. A Patriots’ Super Bowl victory (joy) versus dreaming about Lenten prayer (consolation)

Depression (or sadness or grief) is not the same as desolation, but it can feed it. A rainy day can be depressing.


After his conversion, Ignatius was attacked by scruples. (desolation)
A woman seeing a ray of light at the burial of her mother and feeling overwhelming consolation.
An experience when I have felt both miserable and greatly consoled. (Sitting in the slums of West Kingston, Jamaica and realizing my powerlessness.)
Consolation in giving, doing, and sacrificing. (service and immersion programs)
Desolation after wasting time on computer and IPhone games, TV, etc.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Palm Sunday
March 29, 2015
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

            Palm Sunday ushers in a period of contrasts that is challenging to balance. It marks a rapid concluding period to a lengthy Lenten time of devotion, when we carefully choose devotional ways to express our discipleship; during Palm Sunday and Holy Week, choices are far beyond our control. Good spirits combat evil ones that vie for the souls of the faithful ones. Triumph becomes failure. Darkness encroaches upon the forces of light as the Prince of this world claims momentary victory. The orderliness and the planning of the Passover meal erupt into disorder when Jesus changes the meal’s rituals. Promises of enduring, steadfast fidelity are broken soon after the dinner ends. Most notably, the jubilation of the entry of Jesus into the Holy City is squashed into a solemn quietude. These contrasts cause our imbalance – a perfect way to enter into Holy Week.

            We have to give ourselves permission to be weak enough to enter into Holy Week. Stop pretending that you can hold everything together. No one is telling you that you have to be strong. Instead, you need to be real. You do not need to put on a special face to others to show you are a Christian. Stop perpetuating illusions about the way others tell you to be. This week is about your relationship with Jesus Christ and what he needs most is for you to be a real person – just as you are – even if you are weak, vulnerable, filled with chaos, and bombarded by a variety of conflicting emotions. If this is who you are, then this is the “you” Jesus wants to meet on this journey to the cross.

            Do not be surprised if you meet unkindness and hatred this week. It might come from a very surprising place – a trusted friend, a loving family member, a usually attentive priest. Our senses are heightened and we may see a great deal of badness in one another and it might throw us off-balance. It is important to speak our feelings to Jesus during his arrest, betrayal, mocking, and the way of the cross. Although he experiences great angst and we try to focus upon his needs, all of our chaotic stuff will rush forward. We think he does not want to hear about our petty concerns as he is suffering, but it is precisely what he wants to do. He specifically wants us to describe to him how we are feeling and how the badness of others is affecting us because he wants to heap our turbulent brokenness onto the cross with him as he carries our humanity forwards to God. He wants to show us God’s compassion. Only compassion can reconnect us to God in our suffering.

            Hold yourself steady as you encounter the drama. Accept your drama, but do not let it define your life because these swirling events will soon be transformed. If we go into Holy Week knowing that ugly forces will accost us, we are better able to endure their assaults. Jesus will have the last word over them. Just accept them as part of the plan and remember that all will work out in the end. If everything is not all right, then it is not the end. Jesus will give meaning to your chaos in due time. Be patient with yourself.

            Holy Week is about giving ourselves over to Jesus so that his death can mean something for us. He tries year after year for us to let go of the rigid ways we control events and behaviors. These are illusions. Let go of those reigns so you can develop a deepening trust in Jesus. He beckons us year after year to get more real and to rely upon him. For the moment, he goes to his death for your sake – for you alone - because he wants to liberate you for real joy. He wants to give you a new life, but you must learn to accept his offer. He is ready to suffer for us again and we cannot be so stubborn. We have to learn we are powerless in the face of so many events. When accept our powerlessness, we allow Christ’s mercy to increase. It is time for us to let his death make meaning of our chaos. Give him all our brokenness, frustrations, and anger. Now is the time of our liberation.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

Monday of Holy Week: We hear from Isaiah 42 in the First Oracle of the Servant of the Lord in which God’s servant will suffer silently, but will bring justice to the world. In the Gospel, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly oil in preparation for his funeral.

Tuesday of Holy Week: In the Second Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 49), he cries out that I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In deep hurt, distress and grief, Jesus tells his closest friends at supper that one of them will betray him and another will deny him three times before the cock crows.

(Spy) Wednesday of Holy Week: In the Third Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 50), the suffering servant does not turn away from the ridicule and torture of his persecutors and tormentors. The time has come.
Matthew’s account shows Judas eating during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Jesus and their good friends after he had already arranged to hand him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. The Son of Man will be handed over by Judas, one of the Twelve, who sets the terms of Jesus’ arrest.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday: Only an evening Mass can be said today and we let our bells ring freely during the Gloria that has been absent all Lent. In Exodus, we hear the laws and customs about eating the Passover meal prior to God’s deliverance of the people through Moses from the Egyptians. Paul tells us of the custom by early Christians that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In John’s Gospel, Jesus loves us to the end giving us a mandate to wash one another’s feet.

Good Friday: No Mass is celebrated today though there may be a service of veneration of the cross and a Stations of the Cross service. In Isaiah, we hear the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord who was wounded for our sins. In Hebrews, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through his faith and thus became the source of salvation for all. The Passion of our Lord is proclaimed from John’s Gospel.

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: No Mass, baptisms, or confirmations can be celebrated before the Vigil to honor the Lord who has been buried in the tomb. The Old Testament readings point to God’s vision of the world and the deliverance of the people from sin and death. All of Scripture points to the coming of the Righteous One who will bring about salvation for all. The Old Testament is relished during the Vigil of the Word as God’s story of salvation is told to us again. The New Testament epistle from Romans tells us that Christ, who was raised from the dead, dies no more. Matthew's Gospel finds Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn arriving at the tomb only to find it empty. After a great earthquake that made the guards tremble, and angel appears telling the women, "Do not be afraid." The angel instructs them to go to the Twelve to tell them, "Jesus has been raised from the dead, and is going before you to Galilee."

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered on the calendar during this solemn week of our Lord's Passion.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.
·      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 (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.

Domingo de Ramos

Domingo de ramos
29 de marzo 2015
Isaías 50: 4-7; Salmo 22; Filipenses 2: 6-11; Marcos 14: 1-15: 47

Domingo de Ramos tiene muchos contrastes que son difíciles de equilibrar. Esto marca un período que concluye rápida a un tiempo de Cuaresma largo de la devoción, cuando ayunamos y damos limosna para expresar nuestro discipulado; durante el Domingo de Ramos y la Semana Santa, las opciones son mucho más allá de nuestro control. Los buenos espíritus combatir los malos para las almas de los fieles. El triunfo se convierte en fracaso. La oscuridad invade la luz como el Príncipe de este mundo reclama victoria momentánea. La planificación ordenada de la cena de la Pascua se convierte en trastorno cuando Jesús cambia los rituales de la comida. Promesas de perpetua fidelidad se rompen pronto después de que termine la cena. Lo más notable es el júbilo de la entrada de Jesús en la Ciudad Santa es aplastado en una quietud solemne. Estos contrastes hacen que nuestro desequilibrio - una manera perfecta de celebrar la Semana Santa.

Tenemos que ser lo suficientemente débil como para entrar en la Semana Santa. Deja de fingir que se puede mantener todo unido. ¡Tienes que ser real, no fuerte. Usted no tiene que poner una cara especial a los demás para demostrar que es un cristiano. Esta semana es acerca de su relación con Jesucristo y lo que más necesita es para que usted sea una persona real - tal como eres - incluso si usted es débil, vulnerable, lleno de caos, y que tiene una variedad de emociones en conflicto. Si esto es lo que eres, entonces este es el "tú" Jesús quiere conocer en este viaje a la cruz.

No se sorprenda si usted cumple con crueldad y el odio esta semana. Podría venir de un lugar muy sorprendente - un amigo de confianza, un miembro de la familia cariñoso, un sacerdote generalmente atento. Nuestros sentidos se agudizan y podemos ver una gran cantidad de maldad en los otros y nos pueden tirar fuera de balance. Es importante hablar de nuestros sentimientos a Jesús durante su detención, la traición, la burla, y el camino de la cruz. A pesar de que experimenta una gran angustia y tratamos de centrarse en sus necesidades, todas nuestras cosas caótico se apresurará hacia adelante. Pensamos que no quiere oír hablar de nuestras pequeñas preocupaciones como él está sufriendo, pero es precisamente lo que quiere hacer. Él específicamente quiere que describirle cómo nos sentimos y cómo la maldad de los demás nos está afectando porque quiere amontonar nuestro quebrantamiento turbulenta en la cruz con él mientras se lleva a nuestros delanteros humanidad a Dios. Él nos quiere mostrar la compasión de Dios. Sólo la compasión nos puede volver a conectar con Dios en nuestro sufrimiento.

Mantenga constante y disminuir su drama. Acepte a su drama, pero no deje que esto lo defina porque estos eventos se arremolinan pronto serán transformados. Si entramos en la Semana Santa a sabiendas de que las fuerzas feas nos accost, somos más capaces de soportar sus asaltos. Jesús tendrá la última palabra sobre ellos. Sólo aceptarlos como parte del plan y recuerda que todo saldrá bien al final. Si todo lo que no está bien, entonces no es el final. Jesús dará sentido a su caos a su debido tiempo. Sea paciente con usted mismo.

La Semana Santa está a punto de dar a nosotros mismos a Jesús para que su muerte puede significar algo para nosotros. Él intenta año tras año para que nos deje ir de las formas rígidas que tratamos de controlar los acontecimientos y comportamientos. Estas son ilusiones. Vamos a ir de aquellos reinos para que pueda desarrollar una confianza profunda en Jesús. Él nos invita años y después de conseguir más real y confiar en él. Por el momento, él va a su muerte por su bien - sólo para ti - porque quiere liberarte de alegría real. Él quiere darle una nueva vida, pero hay que aprender a aceptar su oferta. Él está dispuesto a sufrir por nosotros de nuevo y no podemos ser tan terco. Tenemos que aprender que somos impotentes ante tantos eventos. Al aceptar nuestra impotencia, permitimos que la misericordia de Cristo para aumentar. Es hora de que nos deje su muerte hacen significado de nuestro caos. Déle todo nuestro quebrantamiento, frustraciones y la ira. Ahora es el momento de nuestra liberación.

Temas para las misas de esta semana

Lunes Santo: Oímos de Isaías 42 en la Primera Oracle del Siervo del Señor en la que el siervo de Dios sufrirá en silencio, pero traerá justicia al mundo. En el Evangelio, la hermana de Lázaro, María unge los pies de Jesús con aceite costoso en preparación para su funeral.

Martes Santo: En la Segunda Oracle del Siervo del Señor (Isaías 49), él grita que te haré luz de las naciones, para que mi salvación alcance hasta los confines de la tierra. En lo profundo dolor, la angustia y el dolor, Jesús dice a sus amigos más cercanos en la cena que uno de ellos lo traicionará y otro se le negaría tres veces antes de que cante el gallo.

(Spy) Miércoles Santo: En el Tercer Oracle del Siervo del Señor (Isaías 50), el siervo sufriente no se aparta de la burla y la tortura de sus perseguidores y verdugos. Ha llegado el momento. El relato de Mateo muestra Judas comer durante el primer día de la Fiesta de los Panes sin Levadura con Jesús y sus buenos amigos después de que ya había dispuesto a entregarlo a los jefes de los sacerdotes por treinta monedas de plata. El Hijo del hombre va a ser entregado por Judas, uno de los Doce, que establece los términos de la detención de Jesús.

Misa de la Cena del Señor el Jueves Santo: Sólo una noche Misa se puede decir hoy y dejamos que nuestro anillo de campanas libremente durante la Gloria que ha estado ausente toda la Cuaresma. En Éxodo, escuchamos las leyes y costumbres acerca de comer la cena de Pascua antes de la liberación del pueblo por medio de Moisés de los egipcios de Dios. Pablo nos habla de la costumbre por los primeros cristianos que cuantas veces que comemos de este pan y bebemos de este cáliz, anunciamos la muerte del Señor hasta que venga. En el Evangelio de Juan, Jesús nos ama hasta el extremo que nos da un mandato lavaros los pies unos a otros.

Viernes Santo: No se celebra la Misa de hoy aunque puede haber un servicio de adoración de la cruz y unas estaciones del servicio de la Cruz. En Isaías, escuchamos la Cuarta Oracle del Siervo del Señor que fue herido por nuestros pecados. En Hebreos, se nos dice que Jesús aprendió la obediencia a través de su fe y por lo tanto se convirtió en causa de salvación para todos. La Pasión de nuestro Señor se proclama el Evangelio de Juan.

Sábado Santo y la Vigilia de Pascua: No misa, bautizos, confirmaciones o puede celebrarse antes de la Vigilia en honor del Señor, que ha sido enterrado en la tumba. Las lecturas del Antiguo Testamento apuntan a la visión de Dios del mundo y de la liberación del pueblo del pecado y de la muerte. Toda la Escritura apunta a la venida del Justo, quien traerá la salvación para todos. El Antiguo Testamento se disfrutó durante la Vigilia de la Palabra como historia de la salvación de Dios se le dice a nosotros otra vez. La epístola del Nuevo Testamento de Romanos nos dice que Cristo, que resucitó de entre los muertos, ya no muere más. El Evangelio de Mateo encuentra a María Magdalena y la otra María, en la madrugada de llegar a la tumba sólo para encontrarla vacía. Después de un gran terremoto que hizo temblar a los guardias, y el ángel aparece diciendo a las mujeres: "No tengas miedo". El ángel les instruye para ir a los Doce para decirles: "Jesús ha resucitado de entre los muertos y va delante de vosotros a Galilea."

Santos de la Semana

No hay santos son recordados en el calendario durante esta semana solemne de la Pasión de Nuestro Señor.

Esta semana en la historia de los jesuitas

• 29 de marzo 1523: primera visita de Ignacio a Roma en su camino desde Manresa a Palestina.
• 30 de marzo 1545: En Meliapore, Francisco Javier llegó en peregrinación a la tumba de Santo Tomás Apóstol.
• 31 de marzo 1548: el P. Anthony Corduba, rector de la Universidad de Salamanca, rogó Ignacio a admitirle en la sociedad con el fin de escapar de la cardenalato que Carlos V intención de obtener para él.
• 01 de abril de 1941. La muerte de Hipólito Delehaye en Bruselas. Era un hagiógrafo eminente y responsable de los bolandistas 1912-1941.
• 02 de abril de 1767. Carlos III ordenó la detención de todos los jesuitas de España y la confiscación de todos sus bienes.
• 03 de abril de 1583. La muerte de Jerónimo Nadal, uno de los primeros compañeros de Ignacio que más tarde le confió la publicación y distribución de las Constituciones de la Compañía de las distintas regiones de la primitiva Compañía.
• 04 de abril de 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordenado diácono en París.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Poem: "The Poet with his Face in his Hands" by Mary Oliver

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spirituality: “The Woman Taken in Adultery” by Irene Zimmerman, O.S.F.

From the angry crunch of their sandaled feet
as they left the courtyard, Jesus knew,
without looking up from his writing on the ground,
that the Pharisees and scribes still carried their stones.

The woman stood where they’d shoved her,
her hair hanging loose over neck and face,
her hands still shielding her head
from the stones she awaited.

“Woman,” he asked, “has no one condemned you?”

The heap of woman shuddered, unfolded.
She viewed the courtyard – empty now –
with wild, glazed eyes and turned back to him.
“No one, Sir,” she said, unsurely.

Compassion flooded him like a wadi after rain.
He thought of his own mother – had she known such fear? –
and of the gentle man whom he had called Abba.
Only when Joseph lay dying had he confided
his secret anguish on seeing his betrothed
swelling up with seed not his own.

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said.
“Go your way and sin no more.”

Black eyes looked out from an ashen face,
empty, uncomprehending.
Then life rushed back.
She stood before him like a blossoming tree.

“Go in peace and sin no more,”
Jesus called again as she left the courtyard.

He had brought her at a price, he knew.
The stony hearts of her judges
would soon hurl their hatred at him.
His own death was a mere stone’s throw away.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Preparing for Holy Week

Today’s mass marked a sharp turn in Lent’s journey. The Fourth Gospel reminds us, “The hour has come.” Some Greeks, who represent all the gentile nations, come to the holy mountain of the Lord to see Jesus, that is, to gaze upon God’s dwelling. The prophetic signs of scripture have been fulfilled and the “hour” has come. This is the time to glorify God, but ironically it happens through the honor-defacing Cross. This is likewise the time of Satan, the Prince of this world, to make his move. Everything is set in place. All we have to do is to actively watch and pay attention to the emotions of Jesus.

During an Ignatian retreat (or for that matter, any type of prayer), Ignatius reminds us that five people are involved: me (the director), you (the one who prays), Ignatius, Christ, and Satan. We must be always aware of the various roles each of these participants have upon your prayer. Hence, the discernment of spirits is crucial to understanding your interior movements. You are never alone.

Our faith is odd. We believe that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, but most do not wrestle with what that means. How can both be true at the same time? It does mean that while Jesus walked on this earth, he was fully human. Most of the time, we consider him in a Resurrected mode, even when he was only human. We somehow think that Jesus was 70% God while only 30% human, give or take a few percentage points. Our faith reminds us he was 100% human as he entered his Passion. His life, his teaching, his person was validated by God in the Resurrection and he became our Christ of faith.

Since he was human, Ignatius tells us it is important to pay attention to the emotions of Jesus. He has plenty of them as he readies himself for his entry into Jerusalem where he will be arrested, betrayed, mocked, beaten, reviled, and crucified. We must be ready to hold these emotions for him as he tells us what he is experiencing. It is a kind act that we can do for him. Anyone who suffers needs to tell his or her story because suffering isolates, but compassion reconnects.

Holy Week is alive. It is way beyond us. It moves in distinct ways whether we are ready for it or not. Just think of our Palm Sunday celebrations. We enter the church joyfully waving palms and everyone walks out silently, sobered up by the realization that this took a solemn turn. Even though we know it, we do not control our emotional reaction.

In true Ignatian contemplation, we gaze upon the person of Jesus and notice what he is doing, what he is saying, examining his tone of voice, and measuring up his facial expressions. When we contemplated Jesus, we are befuddled by all the stuff of March 22, 2015 of our lives that rushes up for us to examine with Jesus. These are not distractions, but the true stuff of prayer. We want to push all that stuff away, especially the turbulent chaos of our lives, but it is precisely the stuff Jesus wants to examine with us. He cannot do anything with it until we assent to look at it with him.

Do not be alarmed if Holy Week becomes messy and turbulent. It is natural that it does. Go with it. You will receive particular surprising graces when you engage these areas of your life where Jesus wants to bring meaning and order. It is part of his task of liberating you and saving you. He is always working for your salvation, but we notice it even more now.

Quiet down inside yourself this week and prepare your hearts and minds for the mystery that may come. Observe our dear friend and let him tell you what is in his mind, heart, and imagination. Let him tell you his fears and concerns. Keep connected, but know it is O.K. if you fall away as Peter, James, John, and the other disciples did. We are human and it is difficult to hold the suffering of another person. Simply notice what you are feelings and speak of those feelings to yourself and to Jesus.

Embrace this mystery…