Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

May 24, 2015
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23 (or John 15:26-27, 16:12-15)

            In the Jesuit community chapel at my residence hangs a replica of a cloth tapestry detailing John baptizing Jesus with a bowl of water at the River Jordan. The original tapestry is situated behind the baptismal font in the Los Angeles Cathedral. However, just a few days ago as we Jesuits gathered for evening liturgy, I noticed the rays of the setting sun falling upon the tapestry. The sunlight fell solely upon the water being poured on the head of Jesus. The effect was as if the water was on fire with the Holy Spirit. As the lector began the first reading, he told the story in Acts of Paul comparing the baptism of John with the baptism brought about by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. My heart was bursting in gratitude for the Holy Spirit, who was reminding me that the Spirit is alive and continuing to work softly, but brightly today. The Spirit is intent upon capturing our hearts and forming us into souls who love freely.

             Whether you experience Pentecost in a dramatic way as Acts describes or as a simple breathing gesture as found in John’s Gospel, the effect is the same. Pentecost brings unity and peace. Pentecost allows for individual freedom, but demands responsibility from each believer. It allows for a multiplicity of activities, but calls for a common good. It asks each person to flourish uniquely, but for the benefit of the community. It builds a creative tension that must be held in balance.

            We are told as Christians to respect the sanctity of laws, unless they cease to reflect the love of God and love of neighbor. The Spirit of truth is meant to guide us to a rightful conclusion, which means we need to bring spiritual discernment into our daily moral choices. Discernment is ongoing. What you have concluded is right today may not be fitting in another two months because the Spirit is always informing and developing our conscience. We have to invite the Spirit into lives, which means we cannot be stubborn. We know we have received the Spirit when we exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Others point it out to us because they are endearing characteristics.

             Once we receive the Spirit, we help it be passed onto others. Jesus tells us to receive the Spirit and then to forgive or retain sins, with the emphasis being on forgiving them. Prior to the ministry of Jesus, only God could forgive, but he gave us this divine power to help save souls and free others from the evil one. We feed our grudges far too long. We spend more energy feeding them than trying to work out solutions. We pity our hurt and feel the debilitating effect of someone else’s power over us rather than trying to patch up the disputes. The Spirit gave the disciples courage to move beyond the persecution they felt. It enabled them to go outward and face a hostile world that was in need of God’s healing. They were able to speak authoritatively and bring the power of the Gospel to those who needed to hear the good news.

            The Spirit comforts, encourages, and is our guiding principle in life. It enables us to move beyond our fears to a future that is exciting and filled with goodness. We simply need to look for the effects of the Spirit – and sometimes, when we least expect it, just like when I sat in our community chapel, it will give us a glimpse of its presence to remind us of our baptismal call. It will catch us off guard but will enflame our hearts with a burning passion. It will illumine an aspect of life that is a pathway forward and we must simply trust that we will be led to an unknown place, but it is a place we want to go because the Spirit has given us courage and energy. We walk onwards and upwards in a new level of trust. And we go there free.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Sirach 17) To the penitent, God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen them for the lot of truth.   
Tuesday: (Sirach 35) The Lord is one who always repays and he will give back to you sevenfold. Offer no bribes; do not trust in the sacrifices of the fruits of extortion.
Wednesday: (Sirach 36) Come to our aid, O God of the universe, show us the light of your mercies. There is no God but you.   
Thursday: (Sirach 42) The Most High possesses al knowledge and sees from old the things that are to come. He makes known the past and the future and reveals the deepest secrets. 
Friday (Sirach 44) I will praise godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time, for their progeny will endure and the glory will never be blotted out.   
Saturday (Sirach 51) When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. I became resolutely devoted to her, I directed my soul to her, and in cleanness I attained her.

Monday: (Mark 10) As we return to Ordinary Time, we pick up again with Mark’s Gospel.  Jesus meets a man who asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him, but it makes him sad because he cannot see the relationship between his moral life and holding onto his possessions.
Tuesday: (Mark 10) Peter and the disciples ask if they can be saved. After all, they gave up everything to follow him. Jesus replies that everyone who has given up all possessions and family will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Wednesday (Mark 10) James and John Zebedee ask for the privilege of sitting at the right hand of Jesus in his kingdom. Jesus tells them the chalice from which they are to drink is one of suffering and new life.  
Thursday (Mark 10) Jesus leaves Jericho and meets Bartimaeus on the roadside. Jesus has pit on him and gives him sight. Bartimaeus follows him on the way.
Friday (Mark 10) In Bethany, Jesus looks for some food because he is hungry. He curses a barren fig tree and uses it as an example of Israel’s barrenness because they were unable to remain faithful to God’s life-giving commandments. 
Saturday (Mark 11) When Jesus returned to Jerusalem, the chief priests and scribes demanded to know by what authority Jesus performed miracles and spoke with wisdom. When they failed to answer an obvious question that pitted them against each other, Jesus refused to answer their question.

Saints of the Week

May 24: Our Lady of the Way or in Italian, Madonna della Strada, is a painting enshrined at the Church of the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus. The Madonna Della Strada is the patroness of the Society of Jesus. In 1568, Cardinal Farnese erected the Gesu in place of the former church of Santa Maria della Strada. 

May 25: Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor, (673-735), is the only English doctor of the church. As a child, he was sent to a Benedictine monastery where he studied theology and was ordained. He wrote thorough commentaries on scripture and history as well as poetry and biographies. His famous work is the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," the source for much of Anglo-Saxon history.

May 25: Gregory VII, pope (1020-1085), was a Tuscan who was sent to a monastery to study under John Gratian, who became Gregory VI. He served the next few popes as chaplain, treasurer, chancellor and counselor before he became Gregory VII. He introduced strong reforms over civil authorities that caused much consternation. Eventually, the Romans turned against him when the Normans sacked Rome.

May 25: Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi (1566-1607), a Florentine, chose to become a Carmelite nun instead of getting married. Her biography, written by her confessor, gives accounts of intense bouts of desolation and joy. She is reputed to have gifts of prophecy and healing.

May 26: Philip Neri, priest (1515-1595), is known as the "Apostle of Rome." A Florentine who was educated by the Dominicans, he re-evangelized Roe by establishing confraternities of laymen to minister to pilgrims and the sick in hospitals. He founded the Oratorians when he gathered a sufficient following because of his spiritual wisdom.

May 27: Augustine of Canterbury, bishop (d. 604) was sent to England with 40 monks from St. Andrew's monastery to evangelize the pagans. They were well-received. Augustine was made bishop, established a hierarchy, and changed many pagans feasts to religious ones. Wales did not accept the mission; Scotland took St. Andrew's cross as their national symbol. Augustine began a Benedictine monastery at Canterbury and was Canterbury's first archbishop.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 24, 1834. Don Pedro IV expelled the Society from Brazil.
·      May 25, 1569. At Rome the Society was installed by Pope St Pius V in the College of Penitentiaries. Priests of various nationalities who were resident there were required to act as confessors in St Peter's.
·      May 26, 1673. Ching Wei‑San (Emmanuel de Sigueira) dies, the first Chinese Jesuit priest.
·      May 27, 1555. The Viceroy of India sent an embassy to Claudius, Emperor of Ethiopia, hoping to win him and his subjects over to Catholic unity. Nothing came of this venture, but Fr. Goncalvo de Silveira, who would become the Society's first martyr on the Africa soil, remained in the country.
·      May 28, 1962. The death of Bernard Hubbard famous Alaskan missionary. He was the author of the book Mush, You Malemutes! and wrote a number of articles on the Alaska mission.
·      May 29,1991. Pope John Paul II announces that Paulo Dezza, SJ is to become a Cardinal, as well as Jan Korec, in Slovakia.

·      May 30, 1849. Vincent Gioberti's book Il Gesuita Moderno was put on the Index. Gioberti had applied to be admitted into the Society, and on being refused became its bitter enemy and calumniator.