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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Prayer: Thomas Aquinas

Nothing in the definition of charity can set a limit to its growth, for it is a sharing in the limitless charity of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, its agent of growth in God with unlimited power. And even on our side, each increase in charity produces an even greater capacity to grow - our heart is enlarged.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Prayer: Basil

Just as a ship is tossed by the waves of a storm will be dashed to pieces unless it has an experienced captain at the helm, so anyone who is in difficulties will find their spirit broken and their hope of salvation dashed unless they are guided by the teaching of the Lord.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Prayer: Jerome

We admire the Creator, not only as the framer of heaven and earth, of sun and ocean and elephants, but also as the maker of tiny creatures, ants, and worms: and in all of them (big or small) we reverence the same skill. So too, the person who is dedicated to Christ is equally earnest in small things as in great.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Prayer: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keys to Compassionate Communication

Two Keys to Compassionate Communication

We communicate to be understood and to understand. The first key is: deep listening. The second key is: loving speech.

In ordinary life, we are anxious for others to understand us right away. We express ourselves but talking first doesn’t work. Deep listening precedes it. We need to be seen and heard and known. When we listen with compassion, we don’t get caught in judgment. Deep listening has the power to help us create a moment of joy.

Now is the Time to Listen Only

You cannot listen long, if you don’t practice mindfulness of compassion. Listening has one goal – to help the person suffer less.

The other person may say things that are full of wrong perceptions, bitterness, accusation, hurtful, and blaming. If we are not mindful, their words will set off in us: irritation, judgment, and anger, and we lose our capacity to listen. When compassion is kept alive, the seeds of anger and judgment in our hearts do not get fed.

You may not be at a point to continue listening. Say, “I want to listen to you when I’m at my best. Would it be alright if we continued tomorrow?”

We listen without interruption or correcting the other person. You have to take the time to look and see the suffering in the other person.

Be aware of the value of time. The conversations may be a series of listening. The person may say things based on prejudices and misunderstandings. Your job is not to correct, but to listen. You will later have the opportunity to offer some information that may alter his or her perceptions, but not now. Now is the time to listen only.

When we don’t know how to handle the suffering within us, we continue to suffer, and we make other people suffer. When others cannot handle their suffering, they become a victim of it. If we get enrolled in their suffering and its associated fear, anger, and judgment, we become the second victim.

Do I Understand You Enough?

If you want to make someone happy, ask, “Do I understand you enough?” Typically, we are afraid of speaking because we fear what we say will be misunderstood. People who suffer a lot are not able to tell us about their suffering inside.

Waiting has consequences. It may alienate or isolate. A person may end a friendship or commit suicide. One you see a block of suffering in another person, your anger towards them disappears.

Say, “I want to understand you more. I want to understand your difficulties. I want to listen to you because I want to love you.”

You may want to check to see if you’ve understood the other person. If communication and harmony exist, happiness and mutual understanding is there. Ask these questions routinely when there is no anger. It prevents anger from growing darker.

You might think you know a lot about a person because you see her every day. You don’t until you ask. We may not even know ourselves very well until we practice compassionate listening, with curiosity, and without judgment. With mindful breathing and compassionate listening, we expand our capacity to listen and we find greater connection with those we love.

When you see suffering in others, you want to help the person suffer less. Compassion is born.

Loving Speech

When we have to tell a person difficult news, we can speak the truth in a way that the other person can accept. When you speak, try to tell others about your suffering and their suffering. This is loving speech. We can use words that helps the person not be caught in misperceptions. Both hearer and speaker need mindfulness and skillfulness.

Your words can carry with it insight and understanding. With more understanding, you help the person suffer less and communication is more effective. You speak gently because you are willing to help.

We can use words the nourish ourselves and the other person. Your words convey only compassion and understanding. Your words inspire confidence and openness. This is generosity. This is Right Speech.

Wrong Speech

Suffering is brought about by wrong speech: unkind, untruthful, or violent words that lack openness and does not have understanding, compassion, or reconciliation at its base. Right speech conveys our insight and understanding. Speaking rightly heals us, and the one who hears our words feel wonderful.

Four Elements of Right Speech

We get accustomed to hearing speech that causes craving, insecurity, and anger, and we need to train ourselves to use loving speech.

1.     Tell the truth. Don’t lie or turn the truth upside-down.

If we think the truth is too shocking, we find a skillful and loving way to say it, but we have to respect the truth. Sometimes people tell the truth in a violent or attacking way, and this causes great harm, “I’m only speaking the truth.”

You need to tell the other person the truth so they do not feel threatened and so they can listen. Tell the truth in a loving and protective way. You don’t own the truth; you may have a biased perception, so tread carefully. Telling the truth is an art. Lying is dangerous and only causes harm.

Building a relationship on the truth is a solid base. Even the most skillful words cause pain, but pain can heal with the right words. The relationship has to last.

Suffering can be beneficial, and we can learn from it.

2.     Don’t’ exaggerate.

It takes you away from truth and trust in a relationship if you exaggerate. People stop believing in you. You might make something bigger than it is to justify and express anger.

3.     Be consistent, which means no double-talk. Your words need integrity.

Be true to your word and don’t change the content to suit your advantage.

4.     Use peaceful language rather than insulting words, cruel speech, verbal abuse, or condemnation.

Refrain from speech that is violent, condemning, abusive, humiliation, accusing or judgmental.

The Four Criteria

1.     Speak the language of the world. Use the language people speak and the way they view matters.

2.     We may speak differently to different people, in a way that reflects how they think ad their ability to receive teaching. We may have to speak to each person differently and it is being sensitive to their situation. It is not double-speak. The content has to remain truthful so others can really hear what is being said.

3.     We give the right teaching according to person, time, and place, just as a doctor prescribes the right medicine for a disease. We share information in ways that people can integrate and use later. Tell the truth in a skillful way. Spread it out over time if you must. We are caught in our own views and we need a guide to move us forward.

4.     We teach in a way that reflects the absolute truth. These are profound truths. Whenever we need to say something that we know will be difficult for others to hear, we have to be humble and look more deeply to discover in what way we can talk about these things.

Speaking with these four criteria will help you to listen well and to express yourself effectively in everyday life. You will have a deep understanding of what is the truth in any given situation and how best to respond.

Listening deeply is attuning all your senses to looking deeply.

Help People Understand

Pause. Breathe first. Respond. You have to tell the truth, but in a way that you do not water the seeds of fear, anger, and vengeance. Each person thinks their perception is the truth. We must help people understand, and when they do, their anger lessens. We want their insight and compassion to increase.

Using Right Speech in Daily Life

Express non-discrimination, forgiveness, understanding, support, and love. It is liberating to write something using compassionate speech because it heals.

Wrong speech causes ill-being. Right speech brings about well-being and healing. Every day we can say something that has the capacity to heal and help people. We can relieve our suffering and that of others.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 31, 2019
Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

The parable of the Prodigal Son grips us each time we hear the story because we identify with one of the brothers, and sometimes our deepest hurts in life come from our relationship with our siblings or our parents. We spend a lifetime working out our childhood issues. The two brothers have a lot of work to do, and so do we, if we are going to grow and mature spiritually and emotionally. I would like to take a look at this parable through the lens of emotional intelligence because that is the quality that allows us to handle life’s challenges more effectively.

We pay a lot of attention to the intellect, academic degrees, awards, and honors, and, by and large, society honors the development of the thinking person who has regard to the common good. However, we have seen that being a valedictorian does not always equal success. For a person to be successful, the whole person has to be engaged, and one’s success can be measured by one’s emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has several components to it: self-awareness to know one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and its effects upon others; self-regulation to control disruptive impulses and moods; motivation, to achieve for its own sake; empathy to understand other people’s emotional makeup, and social skills to build sustaining relationships with others.

In the parable, the father has emotional intelligence in spades. He is the one who is not concerned with his own unresolved interests but can see above it all to recognize that his dear son has returned home. The prodigal son acquires emotional intelligence the very hard way. After following his impulses and selfish desires, he recognizes the folly of his ways and comes home to seek forgiveness and to offer restitution, and he gets it. The dutiful son, the one after whom we are taught to model our lives, has the lowest emotional intelligence, because he succumbs to resentment, unreconciled anger, and jealousy. The ones who acquire this type of intelligence are the ones who live happy, meaningful lives. If we are stuck with resentments or grudges, if we host petty grievances and annoyances, if we are always finding fault with others, if we feel like we are always dishonored and no one respects our contributions, then we might want to find ways to assess our emotional intelligence and find ways to acquire new skills.

Making ourselves vulnerable to Christ in prayer and through our faith helps us achieve greater emotional health. Prayer puts us in a place where we become more mindful of others. Prayer is a place for healing our memories and having Christ give us his views so that our perceptions are more complete. Prayer is the place where forgiveness begins and moves forward. The good news is that we do not have to stay in the place of either of the two brothers. There is a way forward, but it involves getting to know and respect our feelings; it involves understanding the roots of our suffering and acknowledging that others suffer too; it involves reconnecting with ourselves so we can listen more deeply to the plight of others; it involves giving the merciful Father space to be in our lives.

We do not know what happened to the older dutiful brother, but we are a people of hope and goodwill. We can presume that his father’s magnanimous love brought about a change in his attitudes so that he could achieve greater emotional intelligence and to know the wide-ranging effects of forgiveness, welcome, and a positive, loving judgment. We can presume the two brothers learned how to live together once again and to love one another. We can likewise presume that we can do the same in our families and with our friends. God’s love has a power we do not understand, and the rest of the story has not been written. We have to take the first step back to God and to one another with outstretched arms and heads held high.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Isaiah 65) The Lord is about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered; there will always be rejoicing and happiness.

Tuesday: (Ezekiel 47) The angel brought the prophet to the entrance of the temple where life-giving water flowed forth and bringing life to all.

Wednesday: (Isaiah 49) The Lord finds favor with Israel and promises help on the day of salvation. The Lord will help Israel keep the commandments because He cannot forget her beauty.

Thursday: (2 Samuel 7) The Lord said to David: Your house shall endure forever; your throne shall stand firm forever. 

Friday: (Wisdom 2) The wicked said, “Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us. Let us revile him and condemn him to a shameful death.”

Saturday: (Jeremiah 11) Jeremiah knew their plot, but like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized they were hatching plots against him.  

Monday: (John 4) Jesus returned to Galilee where he performed his first miracle. Some believed in him. A royal official approached him as his child lay dying, but at the hour Jesus spoke to him, his son recovered.

Tuesday: (John 5) Jesus encountered an ill man lying next to a healing pool, but when the water is stirred up, no one is around to put him in. Jesus heals him and he walks away. The Jews protest that Jesus cured on the Sabbath. The Jews began to persecute Jesus.

Wednesday: (John 5) Jesus explains that he is the unique revealer of God and cannot do anything on his own. He judges as he hears and his judgment is just because he does not seek his own will.

Thursday: (Matthew 1) The birth of Jesus came about through Mary, betrothed to Joseph. In his dream, the angel tells Joseph to take the pregnant Mary as his wife.

Friday: (John 7) Jesus did not wish to travel around Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him, but he went up during the feast of Tabernacles where he was spotted. He cried up in the streets, “You know me and you know where I am from.”

Saturday: (John 7) Some in the crowd said, “This is the prophet.” Some said, “This is the Christ.” A division occurred because of him because they could not settled how he fit into Scripture. Nicodemus interjected, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” The crowd dispersed to their homes.

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered on the calendar this week.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.
·      Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.
·      Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.
·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·       Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.