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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seventh Sunday of Easter - Ascension

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Seventh Sunday of Easter - Ascension
May 17, 2015
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20 (Ascension)
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Psalm 103, 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11-19 (Seventh Sunday)

            The beauty of Ascension is that it keeps alive the hope of the Church. It raises our eyes to heaven so that we include God in every process we undertake and we remain aware that the Spirit will complete any good task we begin. In Acts, the disciples gathered to wait for the promise of the Father, which included being baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit completes the work begun by the Disciples. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as one who was a witness to the resurrection. The Disciples were beginning to understand the significance of their ministry that could only be realized by the departure of Jesus. The church depended upon the community’s prayers and the discernment of the Twelve.

As Jesus is taken up to heaven, an angel reminds them that God is very close to them and they will see evidence of this divine presence among the people of faith who were gathered together. This is reinforced in John’s Gospel when Jesus prays for the protection and care of his friends who believed he was the Son of God. The believers are to share the joy of Jesus and are to be one with him just as he is one with the Father. Jesus gives them protection from the evil one and comfort so they may go out into the world to proclaim the good news.

            We are given to each other as gifts and when we rightly value the contributions of each person, we are able to affirm the characteristics they bring to us. We too often see the roles and positions of a person and make judgments upon other people who are not in particular roles. For instance, we conclude that a Vice President of an organization is always better able to help us navigate through obstacles than an Assistant Vice President or a Customer Service representative. We believe the person with the greater title is a person we are to regard more highly. When we do this, we diminish the contributions of knowledgeable persons who are well trained and equipped to handle our needs. Everyone wants to speak to someone else’s manager. In decision-making, we always appeal to the highest authority, of course, unless it is God. Then, we do not even bother to ask.

            We will bring out the best of one another when we include everyone in a communal discernment process recognizing God as the most important One in the process. When we run into a crisis or need to think through a difficult process, does our default response system include attending mass? Oftentimes, it does not. Instead, we sit through meetings and assign committees to study the problem and to give them best-informed recommendations – and we seldom pray together. How would our community be changed by coming together as one body to first praise God and then ask for wisdom? We would probably arrive at different conclusions than we do. The Eucharist can inform our choices and transform our community. We would place Jesus Christ right at the center of our life choices.

            In a Eucharistic community, roles are broken down so that we can see that each person is a valued believer who has special gifts to offer. As God is allowed to manage the proper use of these gifts, the hidden gems of each person can surface. Not only are the department chairs allowed to speak, but each person has the freedom to share based upon their prayerful examen. We will not solely depend upon our abilities, but we will depend upon each other in the presence of God. We are more effective when we give up our control of expected outcomes when we are in challenging situations. We benefit when we trust in God.

            At his Ascension, Jesus gives us to one another as a community whose members contribute certain gifts. He does not give us a hierarchical power structure. We are given to one another because of our belief in him. His presence is central to all that we do. He gives us his Spirit to remain with us and keep us united in mind, soul, and purpose, which means that we hold each person in the highest regard possible. We are in this together and we make our lives much more pleasant when we look upon the person sitting next to us as friend and companion. Jesus is with us at all points of our day. This is the reason he ascended to God – so that he can equally share his mind, heart, and compassion with us in our daily challenges. We are one with Jesus as he is with the Father. Let us aid one another each day to help a fellow pilgrim on the journey.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 19) Paul went through the interior of Greece and down to Ephesus to introduce the believers to the Holy Spirit. The community was baptized into the Body of Christ.   
Tuesday: (Acts 20) The presbyters at Ephesus summoned Paul, who told them that he was going to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears, and trials, but imprisonment and hardships await him.
Wednesday: (Acts 20) Paul prays for the whole flock and he prays for them because he knows adversaries will take advantage of Paul’s absence. When Paul finished speaking, the people wept loudly and threw their arms around him and kissed him. 
Thursday: (Acts 22) Paul is brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees are sharply divided; armed forces rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord tells Paul he must go to Rome and be faithful there the same way he was faithful in Jerusalem. 
Friday (Acts 25) King Agrippa hears Paul’s case and determines that Paul is to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appeals for the Emperor’s decision.  
Saturday (Acts 28) When Paul entered Rome, he was allowed to live by himself. He called together the leaders of the Jews to let them know the charges brought against them. He told them his story. He remained for two years in his lodgings and received all who came to him without hindrance as he proclaimed the Kingdom of God.

Monday: (John 16) The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time when he will not longer be physically with them.  
Tuesday: (John 17) Jesus raises his eyes to heaven and realizes it is time to glorify the Father through his death so he may give eternal life to all that we given to him. He revealed God’s name to them and now it is time to see the glory of God revealed.
Wednesday (John 17) Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God’s steadfastness in a harsh world. He prays for unity, “so that they may be one just as we, Father, are one.”
Thursday (John 17) Jesus consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples.
Friday (John 21) After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus appears at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to care for his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.
Saturday (John 21) Peter turns to Jesus and asks about the Beloved Disciple. Jesus retorts, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” This disciple is the one who wrote the testimony about Jesus and can attest to its truth.

Saints of the Week

May 17: Ascension is a holy day of obligation. It marks the event in the life of the Resurrected Christ who departed from this temporal earth to return to God. It celebrates Jesus’ visible absence while recognizing his invisible presence to the world. It is the event in the life of Christ when his physical appearances came to an end so he could resume his place at the right hand of the Father in heaven. St. Ignatius was so desirous of learning about the historical Jesus that he traveled to the places in the Holy Lands where Jesus walked and lived. As he was getting kicked out of the Holy Lands, he desired to return to the place of the Ascension to see the direction of Jesus’ feet as he ascended to God. A novena is prayed beginning on this day as we await the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

May 18: John I, pope and martyr (d. 526), was a Tuscan who became pope under the rule of Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. Theodoric opposed Emperor Justin I in Constantinople who persecuted Arians. John was sent to Justin to end the persecutions. He returned to great glory, but Theodoric was not satisfied, though Justin met all his demands. John was imprisoned and soon died because of ill treatment.

May 20: Bernardine of Siena, priest, (1380-1444) was from a family of nobles who cared for the sick during plagues. He entered the Franciscans and preached across northern and central Italy with homilies that understood the needs of the laity. He became vicar general and instituted reforms.

May 21: Christopher Magallanes, priest and companions, martyrs (1869-1927) was a Mexican priest who served the indigenous people by forming agrarian communities. He opened seminaries when the ant-Catholic government kept shutting them down. He was arrested and executed with 21 priests and 3 laymen.

May 22: Rita of Cascia, religious (1381-1457), always wanted to become a nun but her family married her off to an abusive man. He was murdered 18 years later. Rita urged forgiveness when her two sons wanted to avenge their father's murder. They soon died too. Rita wanted to enter a convent, but he marital status kept her out. Eventually, the Augustinians in Cascia admitted her. She became a mystic and counselor to lay visitors.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 17, 1572. Pope Gregory XIII exempted the Society from choir and approved simple vows after two years of novitiate and ordination before solemn profession. In these matters he reversed a decree of St Pius V.
·      May 18, 1769. The election of Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli as Pope Clement XIV. He was the pope who suppressed the Society.
·      May 19, 1652. Birth of Paul Hoste mathematician and expert on construction of ships and history of naval warfare.
·      May 20, 1521. Ignatius was seriously wounded at Pamplona, Spain, while defending its fortress against the French.
·      May 21, 1925. Pius XI canonizes Peter Canisius, with Teresa of the Child Jesus, Mary Madeleine Postal, Madeleine Sophie Barat, John Vianney, and John Eudes. Canisius is declared a Doctor of the Church.
·      May 22, 1965. Pedro Arrupe was elected the 28th general of the Society of Jesus.

·      May 23, 1873. The death of Peter de Smet, a famous missionary among Native Americans of the great plains and mountains of the United States. He served as a mediator and negotiator of several treaties.

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