Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Holy Trinity Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Holy Trinity
May 22, 2016
Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

            The Book of Proverbs gives us a rare glimpse of Lady Wisdom’s relationship to the Creating God. She speaks poetically of her time with the Lord as they found delight in creating the heavens, the skies, and the seas. They worked together as coequals. She stood beside God as they both took pride in their work. It is as if they breathed a deep sigh of satisfaction as they finished their work, and they played together in joy, basking in the glow of creating a fascinating world.

            The portrayal of God in this passage is nicely different from other Old Testament depictions, but it is one that appears frequently and is more representative of the true God than we let ourselves imagine. The Lord does gaze upon us lovingly and finds delight in us, but we do not allow ourselves to experience this aspect of God. Instead, we throw up prayer petitions and we bargain with an authoritative voice we think to be God. We seldom allow ourselves to be in a state of play before the Lord. It is time to change our approach.

            If the Holy Spirit is the loving tension between us and God, then we cannot let our love be stilted. Love is a relaxed, mutual sharing of gifts, but we find ourselves uptight when we pray. Prayer can be a chore. Prayer is done when we need something. Prayer comforts us when we suffer. It is time to play and find relaxation with God. Part of our problem is that we do not have a healthy work-life balance in other areas of life.

            How does one play with the Lord? One way is just to constantly put oneself before God to let him gaze upon our faces in wonder, awe, and amazement. Day after day, if we begin prayer by letting God simply admire our souls, just like parents do with their newborns, then we learn to hold God’s affection for us deeply in our souls. As we learn to waste time with God and gaze back in admiration, we tend to have playful conversations that express our delight in him.

            How can we learn to play again? Look at children and learn from them. They spend their time doodling and drawing on pieces of paper, constructing buildings using Legos, reading fantastic books, singing songs and coming up with new lyrics, dancing and engaging in social games with others, and using their imagination to dream of new approaches to make themselves happier. It only makes sense that we do the same types of activities, but with a maturing spirituality.

            During retreats, I have routinely asked people to return to a favorite book from their youth and to read it again capturing the sense of wonder that first inspired them. It is helpful that they tell God why they liked it before they read it again, but also to read the book to God. When we invite God into an activity like this, we are able to share our joy of discovery or to mention our favorite parts. We can gain insights into new ideas and ancient memories that were part of our formation. Like Lady Wisdom, we have a faithful companion who is interested in what we think and feel.

            In all that we do, we can enhance our experience by actively inviting God into these times, especially those times that are playful. God does not only want our seriousness and our problems. God wants to be connected to us. This is the whole point of our celebration of Holy Trinity Sunday. We are to recognize that extra zest in our experiences because we always have someone to share in our experiences.

            Our prayer cannot be meaningful when we are tense with bolloxed up feelings. Just as with other people, most of our conversations are not intense and meaningful, the same has to happen with God. More growth occurs when we are having fun, letting down our defenses, daydreaming and dreaming, learning more about each other with great excitement. Only then do we understand the nature of our Trinitarian God. It is simply a commitment to fall in love with God, who has fallen in love with each of us a very long time ago. Let yourself be loved with delight. Let your true self emerge before the one who radically loves you. Can you get out of your own way and learn how to play all over again? You have permission to act childlike. Use all your creative energy to be the delightful, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky person that is stuck somewhere within you. Discover, recover, and uncover that person who is yearning to be set free.
Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Peter 1) God gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him, you love him. 
Tuesday: (1 Peter 1) Live soberly. Set your hopes completely on grace. Do not act in compliance with fleshly desires, but be called to holiness.
Wednesday: (1 Peter 1) Realize you were ransomed from futile conduct. You have been born anew through the living and abiding word of God.
Thursday: (1 Peter 2) You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own, so that you may announce the praises of God.
Friday (1 Peter 4) The end of all things is at hand. Let your love for one another be intense. Be hospitable without complaining. Rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ.
Saturday (Jude 17) Build up yourselves in the faith. Pray in the Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for his mercy.

Monday: (Mark 10) A man ran up to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.
Tuesday: (Mark 10) Peter said, “We have given up everything to follow you.” Anyone who has given up family and possessions and houses for my sake will inherit eternal life.
Wednesday (Mark 10) Jesus told the Twelve on the way to Jerusalem. I will be handed over, killed, but on the third day, I will rise.
Thursday (Mark 10) As Jesus left Jericho, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar called out for pity. Jesus give him back his sight, and the man followed him on the way.
Friday (Mark 11) Jesus cursed a fig tree, then went to the Temple to overturn the tables of the money-changers. The next day, the fig tree was withered.
Saturday (Mark 11) The chief priests and scribes asked, “Why what authority are you doing these things?” As they would not answer his question about John the Baptist, he would not answer their questions.

Saints of the Week

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.

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 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.
·      May 24, 1834. Don Pedro IV expelled the Society from Brazil.
·      May 25, 1569. At Rome Pope St Pius V installed the Society in the College of Penitentiaries. Priests of various nationalities who were resident in Rome 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.