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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 4, 2016
Wisdom 9:13-18; Psalm 90; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33

            A question that arises from these readings is: Do you make plans for and outline our goals for our faith life in the same way we do other parts of our life? In Wisdom, we read that we are weak in making our plans and that we guess wrongly about the spiritual life. The Psalmist is more precise, like a mathematician, when he begs the Lord to teach us how to number our days so that we may gain wisdom of heart. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells parables about a construction manager who calculates the dimensions of building a tower so that it stands firm and a king that meticulously prepares for a successful military battle and deliberating whether he should sue for peace. Jesus tells us that we have to plan around our spiritual life with great detail, which includes moving towards a proper disposition of discipleship.

            In fact, we do not plan much in our spiritual life. We make minor resolutions to be a kinder, gentler person, but this is often in response to the way others treat us. We respond to the forces of the world and we hope we make the soundest choices. We measure our spiritual goodness by the ways we respond to social affronts. We may improve our spiritual life by resolving to make a weeklong retreat in the coming year or we may enroll in a spiritual group, but that is about all we do. Jesus asks for a little more in our planning. Discipleship means first listening to his particular, personal plans for us and then finding a way of putting it into action.

            For instance, as we begin a new academic cycle when new goals are established, do we have a plan for our personal outreach? This is the Year of Mercy, which will soon end. Have we set a plan for the relationships we will actively attempt to reconcile? Or do we leave it by chance, hoping the other person will make the first move? It might save your soul to reach out to another person and set a course of having a series of conversations to restore the friendship. You have the power within yourself to accomplish because of your faith in Jesus Christ, who assures you that he will guide you. It requires your resolve. It requires that you act in boldness. It requires that you care enough to even bother to love the other person, which is the definition of mercy. Pray for courage and energy to set the course aright.

            In your planning, have you invited someone deeper into the faith? This is not a casual shallow conversation, but a willingness to engage more profoundly in another person’s life. It might be engaging with someone to invite her into religious life or a life of ministerial service, or to invite a young man into the priesthood. Regardless of the outcome, the young person will be grateful for your listening support and your ability to engage them in the more meaningful conversations in life.

            Jesus tells us not to be occupied by our possessions? It might be time to eliminate some of the objects that contain sacred memories. Believe me. As one who has given away possession repeatedly in my lifetime, the memories endure. It is even enjoyable to dispossess oneself of meaningful items by distributing them to those who care about you. They, then, hold onto a little piece of you, ensuring that you will live on in their memories. It may be a good time to tidy up your household and limit your possessions. It can be a liberating practice.

            It is also a good practice to review with the Lord the type of person you are becoming. Identify qualities you would like to attain within this next calendar year and set a course for achieving it. For instance, if you want to grow in compassion, go to museums where you will seek out art pieces that convey this heartfelt emotion. Attend films where mercy is the main theme and avoid movies that pull you away from the ways you want to grow. We move in the direction of those qualities upon which we contemplate.

            Take a week of two to plan your spiritual program for the next year. Write it down on a piece of paper as if it were a report you had to turn into a boss or a teacher. Get some feedback on its contents from loved ones, who want to help you along the way. Seek the advice of a spiritual director. Go speak with a pastoral associate at your church. Mostly, listen to the loving words of Christ who always calls you into deeper discipleship. Trust him. Do whatever he tells you and beg him for courage.
Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Corinthians 5) When you have gathered together, I am with you in spirit in the power of the Lord Jesus. Do not boast of inflated pride. Stay away from immorality.
Tuesday: (1 Corinthians 6) If you have courts for everyday matters and you know the holy ones will judge the world, why do you seat as judges people of no standing in the church?
Wednesday: (1 Corinthians 7) Time is running out. Stay unmarried, if it makes sense, as we await the coming of the end of the world, which in its present form is passing away.   
Thursday: (Micah 5) You, Bethlehem, too small to be among Judah’s clan. From you shall come forth a rule in Israel, whose origin is of old, from ancient times.
Friday (1 Corinthians 9) If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed upon me, and woe to me if I do not do it.
Saturday (1 Corinthians 10) Avoid idolatry. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demon. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and also the table of demons.

Monday: (Luke 6) At a synagogue, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. Since it was a Sabbath and he realized their evil intent, he cured the man anyways.
Tuesday: (Luke 6) Jesus went up a mountain to pray for the night. When day came, he called the Twelve Disciples, men he chose in friendship to reconstitute the lost tribes of Israel.
Wednesday (Luke 6) Blessed are you, poor, for the kingdom of heaven is yours. Rejoice and lead for joy because your names will be enrolled in the books of heaven.
Thursday (Matthew 1) The genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, the son of Abraham is recited. The birth of Jesus came about when Mary was betrothed to Joseph.
Friday (Luke 6) Can a blind person guide a blind person? No disciple is superior to his teacher, but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.   
Saturday (Luke 6) A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every good tree is known by its own fruit.

Saints of the Week

September 7: Stephen Pongracz (priest), Melchior Grodziecki (priest), and Mark Krizevcanin (canon) of the Society of Jesus were matyred in 1619 when they would not deny their faith in Slovakia. They were chaplains to Hungarian Catholic troops, which raised the ire of Calvinists who opposed the Emperor. They were brutally murdered through a lengthy process that most Calvinists and Protestants opposed.

September 8: The Birth of Mary was originally (like all good feasts) celebrated first in the Eastern Church. The Roman church began its devotion in the fifth century. Her birth celebrates her role as the mother of Jesus. Some traditions have her born in Nazareth while others say she hails from outside of Jerusalem.

September 9: Peter Claver, S.J. (1580-1654) became a Jesuit in 1600 and was sent to the mission in Cartegena, Colombia, a center of slave trade. For forty years, Claver ministered to the newly arrived Africans by giving them food, water, and medical care. Unfortunately, he died ostracized by his Jesuit community because he insisted on continuing the unpopular act of treating the slaves humanely.

September 10: Francis Garate, S.J. (1857-1929) was a Basque who entered the Jesuits and became a doorkeeper at the Univeristy of Deusto in Bilbao. He modeled his ministry after Alphonsus Rodriguez and became known for his innate goodness, humility, and prayerfulness.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.
·      Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.
·      Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the fathers from England.
·      Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV, expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
·      Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking (Beijing). He experienced enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, being stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.
·      Sep 9, 1773. At Lisbon, Carvalho, acting in the king's name, ordered public prayers for the deliverance of the world from the "pestilence of Jesuitism."

·      Sep 10, 1622. The martyrdom at Nagaski, Japan, of Charles Spinola and his companions.

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