Saturday, February 24, 2018

Spirituality: “People are on the worlds” by John Muir

Most people are on the world, not in it – have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching by separate.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Spirituality: “Broken Shell” by Margaret Silf

We are in a half-forgotten war cemetery deep in central Germany, searching for the grave of a young boy who died in one of the last battles around Berlin at the end of the Second World War. He was fifteen when he was killed by a Soviet tank. He was trying to defend his homeland with a stick.

We find his grave, stark and silent among many thousands more – and bare, except for one small detail. A tiny sky-blue egg has fallen from a bird’s nest in an overhanging branch. The shell lies there, still unbroken, perfect, yet robbed of its chance of life, on the grave – the shell of a bird that will never sing, never fly, never become what God has dreamed it might be. And I weep for the boy who will never grow up. A unique and indispensable part of God’s Dream lies in the earth, beneath that broken shell. And our inhumanity has callously dispensed with it.

I think of the millions who now lie in cold graves throughout the world because they were dispatched to the killing fields. Every one of them has a story. Every one of them is priceless in God’s eyes. We remember them each autumn, in sorrow and in shame as well as with the pride and reverence they deserve. And we remember not only those who died, but those who must continue living, carrying the trauma of war and violence in their bodies, minds, and souls. Their stories have been disfigured brutally by the kind of experience no human should ever know.

When we align ourselves with violence, we rob life of its potential to come to birth. We abort part of God’s Dream.

Yet God’s Dream is greater than anything we can do in opposition to it. God’s light has pierced the darkness and the darkness has not extinguished it. How does this make any sense under the shadow of our warmongering, and under the cloud of all our loss and grieving? What hope might there be for kindling light rather than extinguishing it?

Source: Compass Points: Meeting God Every Day at Every Turn, pp.59-60.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Prayer: Symeon, the New Theologian, Byzantine Monk

Open your heart to Him
and let yourself receive Him
whose love embraces
every most hidden part of us,
and realizes us in joy as Him.

And He makes us, utterly, real,
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed
and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light.

He awakens as the Beloved in every last part of our body.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

She Persists

God love her, but my mother continues to hang onto dear life. She is severely weakened, but resting very comfortably. She looks serene and free of pain as we continue to sit vigil with her. She opened her eyes once during the day for a few seconds, but otherwise, she rests with a contented countenance.

I had the privilege of sitting with her for hours on end, just whispering consoling words into her ear. Later in the day, more family members showed up. Our cousin, Ellen, came to visit, and my brother's wife and daughter from California made their way back east. My sister from Maine and her family has been down often. My brothers and niece and their families showed up, and of course, my sister, who is the primary caretaker, has been very attentive with her entire family. My sister in California is with us in spirit and by social media, and our sister in heaven is no doubt urging my mother forward.

Our cousin brought us low-fat muffins to fortify us; my brother's good friend fed us with pizza and salad, the nursing home gave us a comfort cart at lunchtime and dinner.

Today, we began to look at possible funeral readings, and our review of them brought consolation to the family. I suspect we will have some decisions made tomorrow.

If my mother makes it through the night, then tomorrow will be her last day. Her body just cannot last.

Thanks for all your prayers. Thanks for understanding our need to concentrate on our mother's care and our attention to one another. We appreciate the prayers and we are remembering your kindness, and our energies are now focused on our vigil.

Gentle woman, do let go. Your heart and will are strong, and the place where you are going is a place of great happiness.

The Second Sunday of Lent


The Second Sunday of Lent
February 25, 2018
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Lent is meaningful to us because it makes us confront the reality of suffering and death. It causes us to examine the tension we face with death always around us, and we realize we want to transform our ways and move closer to God. We hope that our actions, aligned with God’s grace, will transform us into the people we and God want us to be. The transfiguration of Jesus was God’s glory breaking forth from Jesus’ human form. We want God’s glory to break forth from our actions as well.

            Death reorients our choices. Abraham was faced with a peculiar choice when God asked him to obediently sacrifice his only son. He had a choice – to cut off the promise God gave him of a long life with many descendants or to follow what seemed like a nonsensical request by God. He chose what God specifically asked of him and because of that, God continued to bless him all the more.

            In the moments following the Transfiguration, Jesus tells his disciples that he has to obey God’s will, which involves suffering and death. Though the disciples found this message difficult to comprehend, the messianic suffering of Jesus was part of God’s plan. The transfiguration that occurred on top of the mountain would be a preview of the transfiguration all believers will receive during the resurrection of our bodies.

            In both stories, we notice that God is very near to Abraham and to Jesus. God blessed Abraham by saying, “Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly.” During the Transfiguration, God says to the disciples, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Both these incidences involved great risk, but because both men listened to God and obeyed God’s will, they were rewarded. The disciples are now asked to listen.

            Listening is the first and most decisive act of obedience. We cannot know God’s will unless we listen and listening involves more than using our ears. It means paying attention to the signs of the times. It means noticing how near God is to us and trusting that God is prompting us to make both easy and difficult daily choices in line with God’s will. It means learning to listen with our whole selves.

            Listening and acting upon what we hear is risky, but we have to look beyond the hardships as we realize God is always near. This is a God who abides. When we look to God’s interests above and beyond our own, God has the opportunity to bless us in ways we cannot anticipate.

            Above all this Lent, let us realize that the words of St. Paul are meant for us. “If God is with us, who can be against us.” The whole universe then is stacked in our favor. Jesus intercedes for us; God acquits us. In everything God has done for us, God promises to be close to us in all things – through hardships, suffering, and even death – and when we do so, we never do it alone.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 9) We have rebelled against you God and sinned, but you have remained faithful to us in the covenant. You, O Lord, have justice on your side.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 1) Wash yourselves clean and make justice your aim. Obey the commandments and take care of your neighbor.
Wednesday: (Jeremiah 18) The people of Judah contrived against Jeremiah to destroy him by his own words.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 17) Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. More tortuous than all else is the human heart. The Lord alone probes the mind and tests the heart. 
Friday: (Genesis 37) Israel loved Joseph best of all, which created resentment among his brothers, who later sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.
Saturday: (Micah 7) God removes guilt and pardons sins and does not persist in anger.

Monday: (Luke 6) Jesus said, “Be merciful,” and “Stop judging because you will be judged by the way you judge.”
Tuesday: (Matthew 23) The scribes and Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Be wary of someone’s teaching if they have no integrity between their words and actions.
Wednesday: (Matthew 20) As Jesus went up to Jerusalem, he told his disciples, “Behold. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death, handed over to Gentiles, an crucified, and will be raised on the third day.”
Thursday: (Luke 16) A rich man dressed in purple garments died shortly after Lazarus, a beggar. In heaven, Lazarus was rewarded and the rich man was tormented in hell. He appealed to God to spare his family, but was told that they would not listen to Moses or to anyone who was raised from the dead.
Friday: (Matthew 21) Jesus told the parable of a vineyard owner, who entrusted the land to servants, but these men seized the land and possessed it. They killed the servants and the heir. When the owner returned, he cast the wretched men into a tormented death.
Saturday: (Luke 15) Jesus is accused of welcoming sinners and eats with them. He then tells the story of the prodigal one who was well received by his father upon his return. The one who was lost has been found.

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

This Week in Jesuit History

·       Feb 25, 1558. St Aloysius Gonzaga received tonsure at the Lateran basilica. Within the next month he would receive the minor orders.
·       Feb 26, 1611. The death of Antonio Possevino, sent by Pope Gregory XIII on many important embassies to Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Germany. In addition to founding colleges and seminaries in Cracow, Olmutz, Prague, Braunsberg, and Vilna, he found time to write 24 books.
·       Feb 27, 1767. Charles III banished the Society from Spain and seized its property.
·       Feb 28, 1957. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps began.
·       Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·       Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·       Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.