Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
November 15, 2015
Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

            Reading the signs of the times is a skill perfected by those who take the time to reflect upon changes in society. The foolish are quick to speak and react and they realize few people listen to them. Many people fear change and will actively resist, even when they do not like their present situations. Change is part of who we are and we remain positive and optimistic when we embrace the uncertainty of an unknown future. Embracing change means that we are a people who trust in the works of Jesus.

            Pope Francis told the church in Italy that the “Church must be open to change while rejecting a “controlling, hard, and prescriptive” style.  He called on Catholics to be “a free Church that is open to the challenges of the present, never on the defensive for fear of losing something.” Reform is not about changing structures, but being “rooted in Christ, allowing the Spirit to lead us.” Christian doctrine, he added, “is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, queries, but it is alive and able to unsettle, animate. Doctrine has a face that is not rigid, a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh: that of Jesus Christ.

            During November the church assesses how it is doing in light of the teachings of Jesus. The end times approach when the world will be brought to the last judgment before Jesus. How are we doing? Overall, the church is asked to make a preferential choice for the poor, to offer hospitality, to foster a climate of encounter and to pursue dialogue that seeks the common good. Discussion and criticism keeps theology from becoming ideology. The Pope is asking us to take seriously our Gospel mandate and to get to know the feelings of the poor because they know about Christ’s suffering from experience. He says, “We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them, and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them. The Pope acknowledges that we have work to do.

            How are you doing personally with incorporating the changes you want to make? First, if we do not want the church to have a hard, rigid, prescriptive style, then our style must be loving and open to growth. It means we must listen to understand and then sensitively tend to the needs of others. It means we have to place greater trust in others and give them the respect they deserve.

In order to be reflective and read the signs of the times, we need to reward ourselves with the gift of time. We have to stop the fast pace of life so we can spend time with ourselves. We cannot engage in reflection and prayer unless we block off time to waste with Christ. We cannot know what Jesus thinks until we develop a friendship with him and then find out how he feels and know what he thinks. It is a relationship that has to develop over time, just as human friendships take time to develop. Too many people have become human doings instead of human beings and it is a personal choice to step off the track so we can make adjustments to our systems. We place too many personal demands upon us – so much so that we don not give ourselves time to think. You will then make your own decisions rather than letting others choose for you. Happiness is in making the right choices and making time so you can invest it in yourself.

            A reflective life is one worth living. The church every once in a while has to reflect on how it is carrying out its mission to save souls. Right now, it needs to make significant adjustments and Francis is leading us to care for each other better. We too have to discern the signs of our personal times to see if we are on the right track or need to make adjustments. The stakes are high because our souls’ salvation is at risk. Your life is sacred and Christ wants you to honor yourself. As you give yourself time and learn to listen to the sage voice of Jesus, you will find yourself like the wise that Daniel speaks of – shining brightly like the splendor of the stars above us. We shall be like the stars and we shall live forever.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 Maccabees 1) While some Jews made an alliance with the Gentiles, Antiochus built a gymnasium in Jerusalem. To unify the people, the king built altars and offered sacrifices. Many were resolved not to eat anything unclean.
·      Tuesday: (2 Maccabees 6) Eleazar, a renowned scribe of advanced years, was forced to eat pork. He refused and was tortured unto death and became a symbol of resistance.
·      Wednesday: (2 Maccabees 7) Seven brothers and their mother were arrested and tortured. The brothers were killed except the youngest. Antiochus appealed to the youth to relent in his ways, but he affirmed that he would not obey the king’s command.   
·      Thursday: (1 Maccabees 2) As Jews began compromising with Antiochus, Mattathias resisted and led a group of zealots to the mountains in order to live in religious freedom.
·      Friday (1 Maccabees 4) After Judas’ enemies were crushed and the sanctuary purified, the people celebrated the dedication of the altar.   
·      Saturday (1 Maccabees 6) While in Persia, Antiochus received news that his armies were thrown out of Israel. He was overcome with fear and spent his final days in bitter grief in a foreign land.   

·      Monday: (Luke 18) As Jesus approached Jericho, the blind Bartimaeus called out for pity. Jesus gave him sight and belief and Bartimaeus followed him on the way.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 19) Zacchaeus waited anxiously Jesus who was passing through town. He was a tax collector who defrauded the village, but when Jesus dines with him, he repays everyone four times over as a testament to his conversion.
·      Wednesday (Luke 19) A noblemen entrusted coins to ten servants before he went on a trip. Most invested wisely, but the one who did not was thrown out and slain.
·      Thursday (Luke 19) Jesus wept over Jerusalem, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes… You did not recognize the visitation.
·      Friday (Luke 19) Jesus cleansed the temple and drove out merchants saying, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”
·      Saturday (Luke 20) Sadducees tested Jesus about the resurrection of those who were divorced but reunited in heaven. Jesus proclaimed, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Saints of the Week

November 15: Albert the Great, bishop and doctor (1200-1280), joined the Dominicans to teach theology in Germany and Paris. Thomas Aquinas was his student. With his reluctance, he was made bishop of Ratisbon. He resigned after four years so he could teach again. His intellectual pursuits included philosophy, natural science, theology, and Arabic language and culture. He applied Aristotle's philosophy to theology.

November 16: Roch Gonzalez, John del Castillo, and Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1576-1628) were Jesuit priests born to Paraguayan nobility who were architects of the Paraguayan reductions, societies of immigrants based on religious faith. They taught the indigenous population how to plant farms and other basic life skills that would protect them from the insidious slave trades of Spain and Portugal. By the time the Jesuits were expelled, 57 such settlements were established. Roch was a staunch opponent of the slave trade. He, John, and Alphonsus were killed when the envy of a local witch doctor lost his authority at the expense of their growing medical expertise.  

November 16: Margaret of Scotland (1046-1093) was raised in Hungary because the Danes invaded England. She returned after the Norman Conquest in 1066 and sought refuge in Scotland. She married the king and bore him eight children. She corrected many wayward abuses within the church and clarified church practices.

November 16: Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) was placed for childrearing into a Benedictine monastery at age 5 in Saxony. She lived with two mystics named Mechthild and as she developed her intellectual and spiritual gifts, she too became a mystic. Her spiritual instructions are collected into five volumes. She wrote prayers as a first advocate of the Sacred Heart.

November 17: Elizabeth of Hungary, (1207-1231) was the daughter of Andrew II, king of Hungary. She married Ludwig IV of Thuringia and as queen supported many charities. When her husband died in a crusade in 1227, she entered the Third Order of Franciscans.

November 18: The Dedication of the Basilicas of Peter and Paul celebrates churches in honor of the two great church founders. St. Peter's basilica was begun in 323 by Emperor Constantine - directly over Peter's tomb. A new basilica was begun in 1506 and it was completed in 1626. Many great artists and architects had a hand in building it. St. Paul Outside the Walls was built in the 4th century over Paul's tomb. It was destroyed by fire in 1823 and subsequently rebuilt.

November 18: Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) joined the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and at age 49, traveled to Missouri to set up a missionary center and the first free school west of the Mississippi. She then founded six more missions. She worked to better the lives of the Native Americans.

November 21: The Presentation of Mary originated as a feast in 543 when the basilica of St. Mary's the New in Jerusalem was dedicated. The day commemorate the event when Mary's parent brought her to the Temple to dedicate her to God. The Roman church began to celebrate this feast in 1585.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 15, 1628. The deaths of St Roch Gonzalez and Fr. Alphonsus Rodriguez. They were some of the architects of the Jesuit missions in Uruguay and Paraguay.
·      Nov 16, 1989. In El Salvador, the murder of six Jesuits connected with the University of Central America together with two of their lay colleagues.
·      Nov 17, 1579. Bl Rudolph Acquaviva and two other Jesuits set out from Goa for Surat and Fattiphur, the Court of Akbar, the Great Mogul.
·      Nov 18, 1538. Pope Paul III caused the governor of Rome to publish the verdict proclaiming the complete innocence of Ignatius and his companions of all heresy.
·      Nov 19, 1526. The Inquisition in Alcala, Spain examined Ignatius. They were concerned with the novelty of his way of life and his teaching.
·      Nov 20, 1864. In St Peter's, Rome, the beatification of Peter Canisius by Pope Pius IX.

·      Nov 21, 1759. At Livorno, the harbor officials refused to let the ship, S Bonaventura, with 120 exiled Portuguese Jesuits on board, cast anchor. Carvalho sent orders to the Governor of Rio de Janeiro to make a diligent search for the supposed wealth of the Jesuits.