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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prayer: Samuel Johnson

Almighty God, by whose mercy my life has continued for another year, I pray that, as my years increase, my sins may not increase. As age advances, let me become more open, more faithful, and more trusting in you. Continue and increase your loving kindness towards me so that, when you finally call me to yourself, I may enter into eternal happiness with you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Epiphany of the Lord

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Epiphany of the Lord
January 3, 2016
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

            The Epiphany of the Lord is a like a second Christmas gift to us. The twelfth day of Christmas has come. Orthodox Catholics celebrate this as their meaningful Christmas moment. Many Spanish-speaking communities also regard this day as a bright spot in their festivities because salvation has been announced to the whole world. The public declaration that Christmas is for everyone brings joy to people who were waiting for the promised light of the world. The radiating power of the tiny infant who was born to us is taking hold in a world that was set to destroy or marginalize him. A simple joy can permeate all things because his presence makes the world brighter.

            While Epiphany is the public manifestation of Christ to the world, we see the terrible effects of keeping secrets. As we know, Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained the time of the star’s appearance as he hatched his plan. He brought the three wise men into his conniving ways, but they trusted that his motives were impure and decided to stay away from the deceitful ways of Herod. Fortunately, they departed for their home country by another way.

            Beware of those who keep secrets. There’s that old proverb: We are only as sick as our secrets. Gossiping is secretive and the person who does it intends harm another person. Typically persons gossip because they are unable to bring their anger directly out into the open. Their conflict-avoidant nature often makes them unable to positively resolve disputes and it gives them energy to devise their plans to get their own way secretively, but their plans never stay below the surface. It is all about control. Secretive anger destroys the person who holds it. Casual observers sense their unresolved anger and healthy people make sure they avoid the trap of getting enrolled into their problems. Healthy people, like the Magi, depart for their home country by another way.  

            Families keep secrets because they feel shame. We have to help people realize what they perceive as shameful is not really so bad. However, if we had the courage to speak openly of those shameful areas, we might be able to get our loved ones the help they need. Both they and we want the same goal. Let us not bury the condition that causes shame, but bring it out into the open so the person can get help. The larger goal is in loving and helping the person so they can reach salvation. The worst things we can do are hiding the shame and devising all sorts of plans to keep the shame inside the family closet. Certainly, courage is needed to emerge from the chaos, but the mercy we receive along the way will change our world.

            Think of the person who comes out and says: I was once illiterate, now I can read. I am a lesbian, and I want acceptance from my church. I am an addict, and I need rehab and support. I am an orphan, and I want to know someone loves me for who I am. All these people will be met with open arms and affirmation. They will become more lovable because we all have wounded areas that need to be healed. We allow ourselves to be embraced when we emerge from our secrets. No one can harm us when we make our shame our strength.

            Imagine if Herod told others of his secret fears. Their intervention might have saved thousands of lives of the young innocents. If he simply shared in a trusted colleague that he feared for his loss of power, he would have had his fears allayed and his confidence in his own goodness affirmed. Instead, he made a mess of things. Herod wanted to be adored as the Christ-child was by the three wise men. He made himself unlovable. He pushed away from himself what he most wanted. This is what our secret shame does to us. We cannot let it live any longer.

            The public manifestation of the Christ-child is an invitation for us to make our whole selves, our true selves public as well. We no longer have to be debilitated or paralyzed like Herod. We can enter into the joy of knowing we are saved and are lovable when we stand before Mary and Joseph and their child and present ourselves as a remarkable gift to him. He will accept you and lavish you abundantly with his everlasting graces. Rise up, dear friends, your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 John 3) Do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
·      Tuesday: (1 John 4) Let us love one another because love is of God. God loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
·      Wednesday: (1 John 4) This is how we remain in God’s love: that he has given us of his Spirit. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God remains in his love.        
·      Thursday: (1 John 4) If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother is a liar. Whoever does not love his brother, who he can see, cannot love God, who he cannot see.  
·      Friday (1 John 5) The victor of this world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  
·      Saturday (1 John 5) We have confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

·      Monday: (Matthew 4) When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. From that time on, Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
·      Tuesday: (Mark 6) When Jesus saw the crowd, his heart was moved with pity for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said, “Give them something to eat.”
·      Wednesday (Mark 6) After they had eaten, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat to cross to the other side. A quall whipped up and Jesus came to them walking on the sea.
·      Thursday (Luke 4) Jesus came to Nazareth, entered the synagogue, unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and read from it. “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
·      Friday (Luke 5) A leprous man pleaded with Jesus to heal him. Be made clean. From that point on, Jesus could no longer travel openly from town to town.    
·      Saturday (John 3) John answered his disciples about the reports of Jesus baptizing: The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is complete. He must increase.

Saints of the Week

January 3: The Name of Jesus was given to the infant as the angel foretold. In the Mediterranean world, the naming of person stood for the whole person. Humans were given the power to name during the Genesis creation accounts. If one honors the name of the person, they honor the person. The name Jesus means “Yahweh saves.”

January 4: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious (1774-1821), was born into an Episcopalian household where she married and had five children. When her husband died, she became a Catholic and founded a girls’ school in Baltimore. She then founded the Sisters of Charity and began the foundation for the parochial school system in the U.S. She is the first native-born American to be canonized.

January 5: John Neumann, bishop (1811-1860), emigrated from Bohemia to New York and joined the Redemptorists in Pittsburgh before being named bishop of Philadelphia. He built many churches in the diocese and placed great emphasis on education as the foundation of faith.

January 6: Andre Bessette, religious (1845-1937), was born in Quebec, Canada. He joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross and taught for 40 years at the College of Notre Dame. He cared for the sick and was known as a intercessor for miracles. He built St. Joseph’s Oratory, a popular pilgrimage site in Canada.

January 7: Raymond of Penyafort, priest (1175-1275), was trained in philosophy and law and was ordained in 1222 to preach to the Moors and Christians. Though he was appointed bishop of Tarragon, he declined the position. Instead he organized papal decrees into the first form of canon law. He was later elected Master of the Dominican Order.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan. 3, 1816: Fr. General Brzozowski and 25 members of the Society, guarded by soldiers, left St. Petersburg, Russia, having been banished by the civil government.
·      Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
·      Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
·      Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.
·      Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.
·      Jan. 8, 1601: Balthasar Gracian was born. A Spanish Jesuit, he wrote on courtly matters. He is the author of "The Compleat Gentleman" and "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."

·      Jan. 9, 1574: Fr. Jasper Haywood died at Naples. He was superior of the English mission. As a boy he was one of the pages of honor to the Princess Elizabeth. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he renounced his fellowship and entered the Society in Rome in 1570. An able Hebrew scholar and theologians, he was for two years professor in the Roman College.

La Epifanía del Señor

La Epifanía del Señor
03 de enero 2016
Isaías 60: 1-6; Salmo 72; Efesios 3: 2-3, 5-6; Mateo 2: 1-12

La Epifanía del Señor es un un segundo regalo de Navidad como para nosotros. El duodécimo día de Navidad ha llegado. Católicos ortodoxos celebran esto como su momento de Navidad significativa. Muchas comunidades de habla hispana también consideran este día como un punto brillante en sus fiestas, porque la salvación se ha anunciado al mundo entero. La declaración pública de que la Navidad es para todo el mundo trae alegría a las personas que estaban esperando la luz prometida del mundo. La potencia radiante de la pequeña bebé que nació a nosotros se está afianzando en un mundo que se estableció para destruir o marginar a él. Una alegría simple puede permear todas las cosas porque su presencia hace que el mundo más brillante.

Mientras que la Epifanía es la manifestación pública de Cristo al mundo, vemos los terribles efectos de guardar secretos. Como sabemos, Herodes llamó en secreto a los magos y determinar el momento de la aparición de la estrella como él urdió su plan. Él trajo los tres reyes magos en sus caminos connivencia, pero confiaba en que sus motivos eran impuros y decidieron alejarse de las formas engañosas de Herodes. Afortunadamente, se fueron de su país de origen por otro camino.

Tenga cuidado con los que guardan secretos. Hay que viejo proverbio: Nosotros sólo estamos tan enfermos como nuestros secretos. Cotilleo es reservado y la persona que lo hace tiene la intención dañar a otra persona. Por lo general las personas chismean porque no son capaces de llevar su ira directamente a la luz pública. Su naturaleza de los conflictos por evitación menudo los hace incapaces de resolver positivamente los conflictos y les da energía para elaborar sus planes para conseguir su propio camino en secreto, pero sus planes nunca quedarse por debajo de la superficie. Se trata de control. Cólera secreta destruye a la persona que lo sostiene. Los observadores casuales perciben su enojo sin resolver y las personas sanas asegúrese de que evitar la trampa de ser inscrito en sus problemas. Las personas sanas, como los Magos, salen de su país de origen por otro camino.

Las familias guardan secretos porque sienten vergüenza. Tenemos que ayudar a las personas se dan cuenta de lo que perciben como algo vergonzoso no es realmente tan malo. Sin embargo, si tuviéramos el coraje de hablar abiertamente de esas áreas vergonzosas, podríamos ser capaces de conseguir nuestros seres queridos la ayuda que necesitan. Tanto ellos como nosotros quieren el mismo objetivo. No nos enterramos la condición que causa vergüenza, pero llevarlo a la luz pública por lo que la persona puede obtener ayuda. El objetivo más amplio es en amar y ayudar a la persona para que puedan alcanzar la salvación. Las peores cosas que podemos hacer se esconden la vergüenza y la elaboración de todo tipo de planes para mantener la vergüenza en el interior del armario de la familia. Ciertamente, se necesita coraje para salir del caos, pero la misericordia que recibimos en el camino va a cambiar nuestro mundo.

Piensa en la persona que sale y dice: Una vez fui analfabeta, ahora puedo leer. Yo soy una lesbiana, y quiero que la aceptación de mi iglesia. Soy un adicto, y necesito de rehabilitación y apoyo. Soy un huérfano, y quiero conocer a alguien que me ame por lo que soy. Todas estas personas se reunieron con los brazos abiertos y la afirmación. Ellos llegarán a ser más amable, porque todos tenemos áreas que necesitan ser sanados heridos. Nos dejamos abrazar cuando salgamos de nuestros secretos. Nadie nos puede hacer daño cuando hacemos nuestra vergüenza nuestra fuerza.

Imagínese si Herodes dijo a otros de sus temores secretos. Su intervención podría haber salvado miles de vidas de los jóvenes inocentes. Si simplemente se comparte en un colega de confianza que temía por su pérdida de poder, habría tenido sus temores mitigado y su confianza en su propia bondad afirmado. En cambio, se hizo un lío de cosas. Herodes quería ser adorado como el niño Jesús fue por los tres reyes magos. Se hizo digno de ser amado. Él se apartó de sí mismo lo que más deseaba. Esto es lo que nuestra vergüenza secreta hace a nosotros. No podemos dejar que se viven por más tiempo.

La manifestación pública del niño Jesús es una invitación para que hagamos todo nuestro ser, nuestro verdadero ser pública también. Ya no tenemos que ser debilitados o paralizados como Herodes. Podemos entrar en el gozo de saber que somos salvos y estamos adorable cuando estemos ante María y José y su hijo y nos presentamos como un regalo extraordinario para él. Él te aceptará y prodigar abundancia de sus gracias eternas. Levántate, queridos amigos, ha llegado tu luz. La gloria del Señor brilla sobre ti.

Temas para las misas de esta semana

Primera Lectura:
• Lunes: (1 Juan 3) No confíe todo espíritu, sino probad los espíritus para ver si son de Dios, porque muchos falsos profetas han salido por el mundo.
• Martes: (1 Juan 4) Vamos a amarnos unos a otros, porque el amor es de Dios. Dios nos amó y envió a su Hijo como propiciación por nuestros pecados.
• Miércoles: (1 Juan 4) Esta es la forma en que permanecemos en el amor de Dios: que él nos ha dado de su Espíritu. Quien confiese que Jesús es el Hijo de Dios permanece en su amor.
• Jueves: (1 Juan 4) Si alguno dice: "Amo a Dios", pero odia a su hermano es un mentiroso. El que no ama a su hermano, a quien ve, no puede amar a Dios, que no puede ver.
• Viernes (1 Juan 5) El vencedor de este mundo es el que cree que Jesús es el Hijo de Dios.
• Sábado (1 Juan 5) Tenemos confianza en él, que si pedimos alguna cosa conforme a su voluntad, él nos oye.

• Lunes: (Mateo 4) Cuando Jesús oyó que Juan había sido arrestado, se retiró a Galilea. A partir de entonces, Jesús predicaba, "Arrepentíos, porque el reino de Dios está cerca."
• Martes: (Marcos 6) Cuando Jesús vio a la multitud, su corazón se enterneció porque eran como ovejas que no tienen pastor. Luego dijo: "Dadles vosotros de comer."
• Miércoles (Marcos 6) Después de comer, Jesús hizo que sus discípulos subieran a la barca para cruzar al otro lado. Un Quall prepararon rápidamente y Jesús vino a ellos andando sobre el mar.
• Jueves (Lucas 4) Jesús vino a Nazaret, entró en la sinagoga, desenrolló el libro del profeta Isaías y leyó en el libro. "Hoy en día este pasaje se cumple en su audiencia."
• Viernes (Lucas 5) Un hombre leproso le suplicó a Jesús que lo sanara. Queda limpio. A partir de ese momento, Jesús ya no podía viajar abiertamente de pueblo en pueblo.
• Sábado (Juan 3) respondió Juan a sus discípulos acerca de los informes de Jesús bautizando: El que tiene la esposa, es el esposo; el mejor hombre, el que asiste y escucha para él, se alegra mucho con la voz del novio. Mi alegría es completa. Él debe crecer.

Santos de la Semana

03 de enero: El nombre de Jesús se le dio al niño como el ángel predijo. En el mundo mediterráneo, el nombramiento de la persona que representaba a toda la persona. Los seres humanos se les dio el poder de nombrar en los relatos de la creación del Génesis. Si uno hace honor al nombre de la persona, honran a la persona. El nombre Jesús significa "Yahvé salva".

04 de enero: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religiosa (desde 1774 hasta 1821), nació en un hogar episcopal donde se casó y tuvo cinco hijos. Cuando su marido murió, ella se convirtió al catolicismo y fundó una escuela de niñas en Baltimore. Luego fundó las Hermanas de la Caridad y comenzó la fundación para el sistema escolar parroquial en los EE.UU. Ella es el primer estadounidense por nacimiento para ser canonizado.

05 de enero: John Neumann, obispo (1811-1860), emigró de Bohemia a Nueva York y se unió a los Redentoristas en Pittsburgh antes de ser nombrado obispo de Filadelfia. Él construyó muchas iglesias de la diócesis y puso gran énfasis en la educación como fundamento de la fe.

6 de enero: André Bessette, religioso (1.845 hasta 1,937 mil), nació en Quebec, Canadá. Se unió a la Congregación de la Santa Cruz y enseñó durante 40 años en el Colegio de Notre Dame. Se preocupaba por los enfermos y era conocido como un intercesor para milagros. Construyó del Oratorio de San José, un lugar de peregrinación popular en Canadá.

07 de enero: Raimundo de Peñafort, presbítero (desde 1175 hasta 1275), fue entrenado en la filosofía y la ley y fue ordenado sacerdote en 1222 para predicar a los Moros y Cristianos. A pesar de que fue nombrado obispo de estragón, declinó la posición. En su lugar, organizó decretos papales en la primera forma de derecho canónico. Fue elegido después Maestre de la Orden de los Dominicos.

Esta semana en la historia de los jesuitas

• 03 de enero 1816: P. General Brzozowski y 25 miembros de la Sociedad, custodiado por soldados, dejaron de San Petersburgo, Rusia, de haber sido desterrado por el gobierno civil.
• 04 de enero 1619: La misión de Inglés se eleva a la categoría de provincia.
• 05 de enero 1548: Francis Suárez, uno de los más grandes teólogos de la iglesia, nació en Granada.
• 06 de enero 1829: Publicación del rescripto del Papa León XII, declarando la Sociedad sea canónicamente restaurada en Inglaterra.
• 07 de enero 1566: El cardenal Ghislieri fue elegido Papa como Pío V. Fue un gran amigo de la Francisco de Borja y nombró Salmerón y Toletus como predicadores apostólicos en el Vaticano. Él deseaba imponer la oficina del coro de la Sociedad e incluso ordenó. Fue canonizado como San Pío V.
• 08 de enero 1601: Baltasar Gracián nació. Un jesuita español, escribió sobre asuntos cortesanos. Él es el autor de "El Señor de Compleat" y "El arte de la sabiduría mundana."
• 09 de enero 1574: P. Jasper Haywood murió en Nápoles. Fue superior de la misión Inglés. De niño fue una de las páginas de honor a la princesa Isabel. Después de una brillante carrera en Oxford, renunció a su compañerismo y entró en la Compañía en Roma en 1570. Un estudioso y teólogos capaces hebrea, fue durante dos años profesor en el Colegio Romano.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prayer: John Chrysostom

If the magi had come in search of an earthly king, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly king, though they found in him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a human, and they acknowledged a God.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Prayer: John XXIII

Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share in this profound mystery of Christmas. Pour into our hearts this peace for which we sometimes seek so desperately and which you alone can give us. Reveal to us also your beauty, holiness, and purity. Awaken in our hearts love and gratitude for your infinite goodness. Join us all together in your love and give us your heavenly peace.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Spirituality: "The Holy Family" by John XXIII, Prayers and Devotions

Today is the festival of the family, which means the exaltation of our human affections which are not only most dear to us, but most holy and sacred.

We like to think of all the Christian families moving along the road in the company of the Three Wise Men of the East, following the track of light marked on the earth by the Star of Bethlehem. And we like to think of Jesus welcoming them all, comforting and sustaining them, showing them with infinite graciousness that all must learn from his love, and from the shining example of the Holy Family.

O my beloved children, here we have the sublime example of family life; here the love of God shines as if in its own fiery source; here burns the flame of mutual love. Do you know what those lights are that make the night of Christmas, and the night of the visit of the Wise Men such a festival of light? All these lights have names: gentleness and obedience, simplicity and humility, resignation and sacrifice, a radiance which sheds its glow on all Christian families.

O may peace and tranquility reign, may prayer and obedience to God’s law, and obedience which is prompt and loving, be honored by all! Without God, my children, there is nothing but unhappiness and anxiety. May parents be generous and set their children good example, so that they may receive their willing obedience. As Jesus lived at Nazareth, so may he live in every Christian family; may he keep our families united in his love, in an everlasting bond, for every hour of time and for eternity. So Jesus will guard that domestic peace which alone can soothe the bitter sorrows of life.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Poem: "Softly the Night is Sleeping" by Unknown

Softly the night is sleeping on Bethlehem’s peaceful hill,
Silent the shepherds watching; their gentle flocks are still.
But hark! The wondrous music falls from the opening sky;
Valley and cliff re-echo glory to God on high.
Glory to God it rings again,
Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Come with gladsome shepherds, quick hastening from the fold,
Come with the wise men bringing incense and myrrh and gold,
Come to Him poor and lowly, around the cradle throng,
Come with your hearts of sunshine and sing the angel’s song.
Glory to God tell out again,
Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Weave ye the wreath unfading, the fir tree and the pine,
Green from the snows of winter to deck the holy shrine;
Bring ye the happy children, for this is Christmas morn;
Jesus the sinless infant, Jesus the Lord is born.
Glory to God, to God again,
Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Spirituality: “Kneeling before Christ’s Manger” By Francois Mauriac (1885 – 1970)

Even in our old age we have much in common with the little child in the crib; we recognize ourselves in that child and in a sense we are that child. One part of our being, a most hidden part, is the child who has not experienced evil; by this fact a part of our being is like unto God …

How difficult it is to keep my attention fixed on your childhood, Jesus, not to be drawn toward the abyss of your tortured humanity, toward your passion, and your death. I am attracted to your passion by our resemblance in suffering; because suffering summed up and, as it were, defined your humanity, an instinct precipitates those who love you to the call of your halting voice, towards the moments of agony and suffering in your life. But it is not at the foot of the cross that we are closest to you; it is perhaps while kneeling before your manger, before the God-Child who has just been born. O Infinite Child, we do not expect you to forgive us for crimes which you do not yet understand.

What attracted me to your adult body – tortured, crucified, and pierced with a lance – was it conformity to mine. O sorrowful Christ, in whom I seek myself and in whom I find myself, give me the grace to stop by your manger, to lean at length over your Infinite Being totally captured within a little flesh.

Prayer: Christmas Peace

Welcome, O Child of Bethlehem! 

Fill our hearts with your Father’s peace. 
May you help make us ministers of that peace, 
enabling us to be God’s people of good will. 
May your Spirit prevail in our homes 
and hearts every night and every day. 
May the song of the angels be sung 
and heard with joy in every season of the new year: 
Peace on earth to all God’s people.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Day

The nativity story, though we hear it year after year, fills us with wonder as God is born to us as a vulnerable child. We gaze upon the manger in amazement because we know deep down in our hearts that God did this personally for us. While it is a mystery, a special quality exists that we cannot articulate that keeps us very quiet and thankful. Tonight(Today), we have to do all we can to hold onto that wonder and amazement because these memories will sustain us and feed our hope. It is a special moment to realize God really does dwell among us and that none of us is forgotten. It is a time when we realize that the peace of Christ is given to others through our goodwill. Do all that you can to lengthen the good times of this day. You deserve it.

Speaking of amazement and wonder, we are glad to see the church filled with friends and family. This church has contained prayers for so many of you throughout this past year. You can bet that a loved one has offered your name in prayer to God for special care this year. I’m so happy you are here before Christ who wants to give himself to you as a gift. For those of you who are returning, welcome home. For those who are visiting, this is your home as well. I hope you come back. We have a very caring Pope who promises to make our church a community where Christ’s love is authentically given to everyone who needs it. We all need it. So, please, consider making our church, wherever you live, your community of faith. We have so much to explore together. Learn to see it with positive regard. See the goodness that it is trying to bring forth. We need church to be, not a building or an administrative organization, but a community of faith that radically cares for each other as brother and sister. We are given to each other as gifts to enjoy.

You know, we need each other because life is often a challenge. People often say that Christmas is for children, but that is only partly true. Christmas is more for adults because there comes a certain point in our life when we recognize we need a Savior. Adults need Christmas more than children because we realize things are most out of control and we can’t save anyone. The illnesses and hardships that become part of our daily life are beyond our control and we are powerless before them. Only Christ can give meaning to the suffering we face. Only Christ can tend and heal our wounds. Only Christ can reconcile. Only Christ’s mercy that is shown through our actions can touch our deepest prayers, much like the Christ child penetrate to a quiet place deep within ourselves to bring us to a calm stillness.

Our beloved Pope Francis just inaugurated the Year of Mercy. Mercy is defined as entering into the chaos of another, and this is precisely what the Christ child does for us. He is born into our human family so that we might have a brother who understands. He will teach us that being merciful is messy; that compassion heals, reconciles, and binds us together. Our isolation is over when we allow someone else to reach into our chaos and still find us lovable. My prayer for you is that you experience the love of God often this year as you make yourself vulnerable enough to be loved without regard for what you’ve said or done. All of that is over now. Christ has been born to us. A son has been given. Step forward onto this journey to the heart of God. We, your church, will stand here with open arms to walk on this journey with you. Listen to our invitation. Listen to our prayer for you. You are part of our community of faith and we are enriched by your presence and the promise of your presence. The Church needs the same sort of healing and reconciliation that we as individuals do. Be a part of that change. Pope Francis is inching us forward and it is exciting. See what love God has for you. This is our Year of Mercy. Come. Just come! Don’t look back. Let’s go forward – onwards and upwards – to this new day with Christ growing more fully within us each day. It will be much more joyful when we walk forward together.

Poem: “Christmas Eve” By Christian Rossetti

Christmas hath darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus
December 27, 2015
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52

            The Gospel tells us of Joseph and Mary returning to Jerusalem to look for their son who was missing from the safe confines of the caravan. They find the boy Jesus delighting in tales and stories of scriptures with the Temple teachers when they interrupt and ask, “Where were you? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” We know how Jesus responds, but let me tell what I need to hear from Jesus this year. I wish he said, “Dad, Mom, thanks for caring for me so much that you came back to look for me. In fact, thank for you supporting me in so many great and small ways. I appreciate your concern that you show everyday. I’m glad to be in my Father’s house, but even more than that, Mom, Dad, I’m glad you show me the Father’s love.”

            Thankfully, most parents are dutiful, responsive, and caring, like Joseph and Mary, and they act out of genuine love for the souls that God entrusted to them. Sadly, as we read the newspapers, we are aware that some children do not get the basic care they deserve. While most parents search for their lost child, not every parent excels at tending to the emotional, spiritual, psychological, or even the physical care of our young ones. The levels of care children receive vary from household to household. Some parents do their very best, but they need greater support from friends and family to help them best respond to the complicated situations that arise with children. Being a parent entails constantly educating yourself on effective strategies. 

           As a community of faith, we need to more actively support parents and their children. In the days of Mary and Joseph, they could walk along in full confidence their son was cared for in the caravan. We cannot do that today. Parents will never let their children be out of their sight. As a first level of support, we ought to encourage parents to find delight in their spousal relationship because children will learn of God’s love as it is expressed through the parents. If parents are experiencing a maturing, evolving friendship with each other, it will provide positive examples of coping and dealing with conflict for their children.

            Next, it is important for us, in the larger community, to respect boundaries, but also to be gently intrusive into our neighbor’s lives. Entering into the struggles of another person is a sign of how much we care for one another. Respecting boundaries is crucially important because parents will determine how they want to raise their children. We have to hold back until we are invited into their lives, but we also have to be bold enough to give relief and counsel to those who show they are ready to hear it. Even if we do not agree with their decisions, we need to support the demanding vocation they have chosen. We must always move in the direction of loving more fully. Let us show one another that we are a community of faith that cares.
            A crucial part of the Gospel happens after Jesus is found in the Temple. He entrusts himself over to the care of Joseph and Mary to learn obedience from them. They taught him to be wise, patient, kind, and long-suffering in all affairs as a test of the greater task that lay before him. Because of what his parents taught him, Jesus was able to apply the obedience of his faith for our salvation. It is because of his obedience that we are saved.

            The important question that Joseph and Mary asked, “Where were you?” is a sign of great care and concern. We all want to know someone cares for us. See it for what it is: a sign of mercy, a sign that you are important to another person.

            The Year of Mercy will teach us the challenges of bringing mercy to life’s ordinary demands. If mercy is defined as entering into the chaos of another person, then we will get our hands dirty, but it is a sign of our magnanimous love. The people around you need you to enter their chaos; you need them to enter yours. In the center of this chaos, we are bound to find Christ, who came to save us from ourselves. Be open! Listen fully. Delve deeply. This journey that Jesus begins with us will get messy, but the trip will be worth it because we saved the life of a precious soul. May we learn obedience of faith from Jesus, just as he learned from his parents, and may it make our lives richer for the good work we have done.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 John 1) God is light and in him there is no darkness. If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another.
·      Tuesday: (1 John 1) The way we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; whoever loves his brother remains in the light.
·      Wednesday: (1 John 2) Do not love the things of the world – for the world is passing away, but whoever does the will of God remains forever.        
·      Thursday: (1 John 2) It is the last hour. You have the anointing that comes from the Holy One and you have all knowledge. You know the truth.
·      Friday (Numbers 6) Bless the Israelites in this manner: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord let his face shine upon you. The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.  
·      Saturday (1 John 2) This is the promise God made to us: eternal life. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.

·      Monday: (Matthew 2) When the magi departed, Joseph rose, took the child and his mother by night to Egypt. He stayed until the death of Herod.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 2) Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple according to the purification laws. They met Simeon who blessed the child and said, “Now let your servant go in peace for my eyes have seen the salvation of the world.”
·      Wednesday (Luke 2) Anna, a prophetess, worshiped night and day in the temple. She spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
·      Thursday (John 1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the word became flesh and dwelled among us.
·      Friday (Luke 2) Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. On the eighth day, he was named Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.   
·      Saturday (John 1) John said, “I am not the Christ. I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’”

Saints of the Week

December 27: John, Apostle and Evangelist (d. 100), was the brother of James and one of the three disciples to be in the inner circle. He left fishing to follow Jesus and was with him at the major events: the transfiguration, raising of Jairus' daughter, and the agony in the garden. He is also thought to be the author of the fourth gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation.

December 28: The Holy Innocents (d. 2), were the boys of Bethlehem who were under two years old to be killed by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the rise of the newborn king as foretold by the astronomers from the east. This event is similar to the rescue of Moses from the Nile by the slaughter of the infant boys by the pharaoh.

December 29: Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr (1118-1170), was the lord chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury in England during the time of King Henry II. When he disagreed with the King over the autonomy of the church and state, he was exiled to France. When he returned, he clashed again with the king who had him murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. 

December 30: The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, was a feast instituted in 1921. It was originally the 3rd Sunday after Christmas. The Holy Family is often seen in Renaissance paintings - and many of those are of the flight into Egypt.

December 31: Sylvester I, pope (d. 335), served the church shortly after Constantine issued his Edict of Milan in 313 that publicly recognized Christianity as the official religion of the empire and provided it freedom of worship. Large public churches were built by the emperor and other benefactors. Sylvester was alive during the Council of Nicaea but did not attend because of old age.

January 2: Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen, bishops and doctors (fourth century), are two of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. They are known for their preaching especially against the Arian heretics. Basil began as a hermit before he was named archbishop of Caesarea. He influenced Gregory who eventually became archbishop of Constantinople. Their teachings influenced both the Roman and Eastern Churches.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome.
·      Dec 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia.
·      Dec 29, 1886. Publication of the beatification decree of the English martyrs.
·      Dec 30, 1564. Letter from Pope Pius IV to Daniel, Archbishop of Mayence, deploring the malicious and scurrilous pamphlets published against the Society throughout Germany and desiring him to use his influence against the evil.
·      Dec 31, 1640. John Francis Regis died. He was a missionary to the towns and villages of the remote mountains of southern France.
·      Jan. 1, 1598: Fr. Alphonsus Barréna, surnamed the Apostle of Peru, died. He was the first to carry the faith to the Guaranis and Chiquitos in Paraguay.

·      Jan. 2, 1619: At Rome, John Berchmans and Bartholomew Penneman, his companion scholastic from Belgium, entered the Roman College.