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May 31, 2014

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1: 39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Greatness of the Lord

Perhaps Mary’s family was upset. Maybe the local gossip was getting hard to take. For any number of reasons Mary set out for Elizabeth and Zachary’s house in Judah. It was a place of warm welcome as Mary and Elizabeth shared the events of Mary’s pregnancy. While few words are written down, we can imagine the frank and loving conversation between these two cousins, each pregnant with a special child.

Mary’s Magnificat has given hope to mothers and families down through the ages. Take some moments to read it over slowly. What words jump out for your attention today? How is it that the Lord is doing “great things” in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 30, 2014

Acts 18: 9-18

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.”

And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things. After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Life-long Presence

At times I feel alone and on my own with my faith. This tends to occur when work becomes overly stressful, personal relationships become strained, or the unexpected occurs. This happened recently: hoping to have our first child, my wife and I discovered infertility issues. Though I yearned for it, I was not able to recognize God’s presence in these struggles. It was a lonely, painful time.

In today’s first reading, Paul encounters his own desolation while teaching and proclaiming the Gospel. God reassures Paul that “I am with you” and “I have many people in this city.” The vision affirms God’s presence and reminds Paul there is a community of support to help him move beyond fear and towards action.

The reality is, even when I feel distant, even in the midst of despair, God is present,  surrounding me with a community of people who reflect God’s love, strength, hope, compassion, and mercy. Experiencing these gifts through others enables me move forward with courage.

How can I better recognize God’s love and support in the people around me even during trying times?

—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral Associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries.

Prayer

Lord, when we feel distant to you and despair chokes our hearts, bring good people to us. Help their care and concern remind us that your hand is upon us.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 29, 2014

Jn 16: 16-20

”A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Suffering and Loss

You will weep and mourn as the world rejoices; you will grieve and your grief will turn to joy.

Just prior to the ascension, the disciples could not begin to understand what loss and what joy they would face in the future without Jesus.

My niece, who recently lost her partner at age 30, cannot fathom joy beyond the deep grief she is experiencing now. The city in which I live, in deep turmoil and loss, cannot yet begin to see hope much less delight in the new alternatives and growth already underway.

God shows us how much we can bear. Through the passion of Jesus, we can embrace the passion in our lives.

How has God transformed loss and suffering in my life?  How can I support and bring joy to others in my day today?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Into your hands we commend our Spirit, O Lord. Into our hands we commend our hearts.         For we must die to ourselves in loving you.    Into your hands, we commend my love.

—Excerpted from Ray Repp, “Into Your Hands” © 1967, Otter Creek Music


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 28, 2014

Jn 16: 12-15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Come Holy Spirit!

Many of us are parents. Or maybe aunts or uncles, grandparents or grandkids. Two years ago I saw my grandson within about 15 minutes of his birth. What a beautiful scene. There is immediate love and bonding with the child. What is the usual next thing which we all do? We say, “The baby has his father’s….or the baby looks like.…” The birth of a child is a gift from God with an immediate link to the lineage of its parents and siblings, grandparents and other relatives who came before.

Today’s gospel establishes Jesus’ lineage to his Father and to the Holy Spirit. How confusing must that have been for the disciples! In fact our Lord even tells the apostles that he wants to say more but holds back because they might not be able to “bear it.” It was all too overwhelming. They must have been very confused.

In just three short verses Our Lord establishes his relationship with his Father and foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us by Jesus through the Father. We are fortunate since we already know about Jesus’ ascension and the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Imagine how they must have felt not knowing the whole story.

When you and I  feel overwhelmed with our busy lives, try to pause as our Lord did in sharing the facts with the disciples. Disconnect from the cell phone, the computer, the tablet, the TV and let your thoughts catch up with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to work within you and through you. Beg the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and strengthen your witness to the Trinity.

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit; help me to understand what I may not understand. Fill me with hope and faith. Please intercede for me to our Lord and his Father to believe when I may not be able to.  Inspire me to accomplish God’s holy will. Amen!


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 27, 2014

Acts 16: 22-34

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Patience and Surrender

Stripped. Beaten. Imprisoned. Shackled. Such was the plight of Paul and Silas in the early Church community at Phillipi. It is a situation we would all want to escape.

What’s interesting is that when the earthquake comes, and escape is handed to them, Paul and Silas wait. They don’t run, despite immediate freedom. They pray and sing hymns, capturing not only the attention of their fellow forgotten ones, but of God, the liberator. They allow God’s work to continue. They save another man, one of their captors, first. And then, they allow him to save them in response. Paul and Silas offer this guard Christ, and he offers them cleansed wounds. They baptize his entire family, and he offers them a meal and rest.

In the hustle-and-bustle of my life, I often take the immediate action to make my life better without considering the other. Think of Jesus on the cross. He could have saved himself.  But our freedom was at stake, and he expired there for the benefit of all. How can I find the patience to wait and draw others into God’s grace with me? How can I find freedom in patience and surrender?

Jesus–help me not to seek the easy way out. Help me to remain in your love, and bring others into fullness of life in you.

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 26, 2014

St. Philip Neri

Acts 16: 11-15

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Celebrating Lydia

Today’s reading from Acts introduces to a successful business woman named Lydia. She was most likely a free Greek merchant, possibly a widow. The dyed purple cloth she bought and sold was much prized. Devotion to St. Lydia is prominent in the eastern Catholic and and Orthodox churches; she is regarded as the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe. Her feast is observed on May 20.

Notice that she “already reverenced God” and that the Lord opened her heart to Paul’s preaching. Paul baptized Lydia as well as the members of her household. Lydia reciprocates by inviting Paul and Silas to stay at her house.

Notice the description of her coming to faith:  she reverenced God; she opened her heart to Paul’s preaching; she invites her household to join her in becoming Christians; she welcomes Paul and his companions to her home.

Reflect on that interplay of taking God’s word to heart and offering hospitality to others we meet…even perfect strangers. How fortunate that the Lord sends good people into any of our lives to strengthen faith and engage us in service. As Jesus has done for each of us, so we also do for one another.  St. Lydia, pray for us.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, we remember with gratitude all soldiers who have given their lives in service to our country. We pray for their families and all who hold them in their hearts.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 25, 2014

Acts 8: 5-8. 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Field Hospital Receives the Holy Spirit

Philip preaches outside of Judea as the Church begins its missionary outreach to the world.  Through Philip, the Risen Lord in and through the Church continues to accomplish what Jesus of Nazareth did in his earthly life. He performed signs: unclean spirits are driven out, paralyzed and crippled people are cured. Through Peter and John, the Risen Lord in and through the Church continues to send the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis described the Church as a field hospital for the broken and the hurting of the world. Those who are crippled or paralyzed in body, mind, or spirit must be welcomed to the Church to experience healing and the gift of God’s Spirit.

How welcoming am I to those in need of the field hospital?  Where am I paralyzed or crippled and in need of healing?  How does the Holy Spirit move me to reach out to those in need?

—Fr. Robert Flack, S.J. is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.

Prayer

Your Spirit, Lord, renews the face of the earth: may it renew the depths of our hearts. Come to us, Spirit of the Lord!

Your Spirit, Lord, is life: may it raise us up on the last day. Come to us, Spirit of the Lord!

—Lucien Deiss


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 24, 2014

Our Lady of the Way

Acts 16: 1-10

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

On Mission With Mary

Today is the Jesuit feast of Our Lady of the Way. Roman devotion to Mary under this title (Madonna della Strada) goes back to a 5th century travelers’ shrine erected in Rome. A small Roman church with a plaster image of Our Lady of the Way was built in the late 14th century. It is here that St. Ignatius Loyola went often to pray. During his years as the first general superior of the Jesuits, he regularly prayed there with and for Jesuits about to be sent on mission to the far corners of the world. The current Jesuit Church of the Gesu was built on the same spot. This special devotion to Mary animates Jesuits to this day, wherever they find themselves “on mission.”

Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles relates the ongoing missionary journeys of St. Paul, this time with Timothy. The mission outreach of the Church down through the ages encompasses the myriad ways the gospel of Jesus has been preached and practiced. Our individual baptism enrolls us in this missionary enterprise. In large and small ways, by word and example, we help the gospel become alive in our interactions with others. Under Mary’s protection we continue the work of Jesus; with her example we find strength to “do whatever he tells you.”  Our Lady of the Way, pray for us!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Holy Mary, mother of Jesus, guide our steps on the often wild and rugged journey of life. When our days here come to the end, be for us the door of heaven, and bring us home to Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 23, 2014

Jn 15: 12-17

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Loving Like Jesus

Jesus explains to his first followers and to us how he desires relationship. He calls us friends and has chosen us. He gives a new commandment; we are to love each other as he loves us. Friends of Jesus follow his love commandment. Our love for Jesus will manifest in the ways we live our faith by ministering to and with everyone.

Jesus’ love is freely given. Jesus’ friends follow his loving example. Jesus appoints us to bear fruit that will last.  That is a huge challenge for imperfect, emotional people.

Let us pray with St Ignatius whose relationship with Jesus allowed him to find God in everything and everyone; all are gifts from God.

By living our love for Jesus and each other, what will be the fruits of our friendship with Jesus?  How can the fruits of our faith express our loving relationships with Jesus and each other?

—Adele Berthelot is a geological technologist. She graduated from Loyola Institute for Ministry (New Orleans) and belongs to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (in Gramercy, Louisiana) where she participates in liturgical and pastoral ministries.

Prayer

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

—Mahatma Gandhi


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 22, 2014

St. Rita of Cascia

Jn 15: 9-11

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Joy That Is Complete

We all want to be happy. We search for joy in life, often looking in all the wrong places. Today, Jesus offers his joy to us in a total and complete way. We can find that joy in the birth of a baby, in the celebration of milestone events or in service to others.

We are offered complete joy in our relationship with God—by resting in God’s tenderness for us, by trusting in God’s ways, and by remaining in God’s love.

How can I remind myself of God’s tender love for me each day?

How can I share that joy with those I encounter in my day today?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Lord, raise our vigilance to pay attention to those who support us and those who need support from us. Grant us your grace to never miss an opportunity to say thank you. Through an assuring word, through recognition of another’s work, through a smile that invites levity in the moment, let us be an encourager to others. Let us recall your most amazing promise: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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May 31, 2014

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1: 39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Greatness of the Lord

Perhaps Mary’s family was upset. Maybe the local gossip was getting hard to take. For any number of reasons Mary set out for Elizabeth and Zachary’s house in Judah. It was a place of warm welcome as Mary and Elizabeth shared the events of Mary’s pregnancy. While few words are written down, we can imagine the frank and loving conversation between these two cousins, each pregnant with a special child.

Mary’s Magnificat has given hope to mothers and families down through the ages. Take some moments to read it over slowly. What words jump out for your attention today? How is it that the Lord is doing “great things” in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 30, 2014

Acts 18: 9-18

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.”

And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things. After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Life-long Presence

At times I feel alone and on my own with my faith. This tends to occur when work becomes overly stressful, personal relationships become strained, or the unexpected occurs. This happened recently: hoping to have our first child, my wife and I discovered infertility issues. Though I yearned for it, I was not able to recognize God’s presence in these struggles. It was a lonely, painful time.

In today’s first reading, Paul encounters his own desolation while teaching and proclaiming the Gospel. God reassures Paul that “I am with you” and “I have many people in this city.” The vision affirms God’s presence and reminds Paul there is a community of support to help him move beyond fear and towards action.

The reality is, even when I feel distant, even in the midst of despair, God is present,  surrounding me with a community of people who reflect God’s love, strength, hope, compassion, and mercy. Experiencing these gifts through others enables me move forward with courage.

How can I better recognize God’s love and support in the people around me even during trying times?

—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral Associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries.

Prayer

Lord, when we feel distant to you and despair chokes our hearts, bring good people to us. Help their care and concern remind us that your hand is upon us.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 29, 2014

Jn 16: 16-20

”A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Suffering and Loss

You will weep and mourn as the world rejoices; you will grieve and your grief will turn to joy.

Just prior to the ascension, the disciples could not begin to understand what loss and what joy they would face in the future without Jesus.

My niece, who recently lost her partner at age 30, cannot fathom joy beyond the deep grief she is experiencing now. The city in which I live, in deep turmoil and loss, cannot yet begin to see hope much less delight in the new alternatives and growth already underway.

God shows us how much we can bear. Through the passion of Jesus, we can embrace the passion in our lives.

How has God transformed loss and suffering in my life?  How can I support and bring joy to others in my day today?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Into your hands we commend our Spirit, O Lord. Into our hands we commend our hearts.         For we must die to ourselves in loving you.    Into your hands, we commend my love.

—Excerpted from Ray Repp, “Into Your Hands” © 1967, Otter Creek Music


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May 28, 2014

Jn 16: 12-15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Come Holy Spirit!

Many of us are parents. Or maybe aunts or uncles, grandparents or grandkids. Two years ago I saw my grandson within about 15 minutes of his birth. What a beautiful scene. There is immediate love and bonding with the child. What is the usual next thing which we all do? We say, “The baby has his father’s….or the baby looks like.…” The birth of a child is a gift from God with an immediate link to the lineage of its parents and siblings, grandparents and other relatives who came before.

Today’s gospel establishes Jesus’ lineage to his Father and to the Holy Spirit. How confusing must that have been for the disciples! In fact our Lord even tells the apostles that he wants to say more but holds back because they might not be able to “bear it.” It was all too overwhelming. They must have been very confused.

In just three short verses Our Lord establishes his relationship with his Father and foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us by Jesus through the Father. We are fortunate since we already know about Jesus’ ascension and the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Imagine how they must have felt not knowing the whole story.

When you and I  feel overwhelmed with our busy lives, try to pause as our Lord did in sharing the facts with the disciples. Disconnect from the cell phone, the computer, the tablet, the TV and let your thoughts catch up with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to work within you and through you. Beg the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and strengthen your witness to the Trinity.

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit; help me to understand what I may not understand. Fill me with hope and faith. Please intercede for me to our Lord and his Father to believe when I may not be able to.  Inspire me to accomplish God’s holy will. Amen!


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May 27, 2014

Acts 16: 22-34

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Patience and Surrender

Stripped. Beaten. Imprisoned. Shackled. Such was the plight of Paul and Silas in the early Church community at Phillipi. It is a situation we would all want to escape.

What’s interesting is that when the earthquake comes, and escape is handed to them, Paul and Silas wait. They don’t run, despite immediate freedom. They pray and sing hymns, capturing not only the attention of their fellow forgotten ones, but of God, the liberator. They allow God’s work to continue. They save another man, one of their captors, first. And then, they allow him to save them in response. Paul and Silas offer this guard Christ, and he offers them cleansed wounds. They baptize his entire family, and he offers them a meal and rest.

In the hustle-and-bustle of my life, I often take the immediate action to make my life better without considering the other. Think of Jesus on the cross. He could have saved himself.  But our freedom was at stake, and he expired there for the benefit of all. How can I find the patience to wait and draw others into God’s grace with me? How can I find freedom in patience and surrender?

Jesus–help me not to seek the easy way out. Help me to remain in your love, and bring others into fullness of life in you.

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


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May 26, 2014

St. Philip Neri

Acts 16: 11-15

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Celebrating Lydia

Today’s reading from Acts introduces to a successful business woman named Lydia. She was most likely a free Greek merchant, possibly a widow. The dyed purple cloth she bought and sold was much prized. Devotion to St. Lydia is prominent in the eastern Catholic and and Orthodox churches; she is regarded as the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe. Her feast is observed on May 20.

Notice that she “already reverenced God” and that the Lord opened her heart to Paul’s preaching. Paul baptized Lydia as well as the members of her household. Lydia reciprocates by inviting Paul and Silas to stay at her house.

Notice the description of her coming to faith:  she reverenced God; she opened her heart to Paul’s preaching; she invites her household to join her in becoming Christians; she welcomes Paul and his companions to her home.

Reflect on that interplay of taking God’s word to heart and offering hospitality to others we meet…even perfect strangers. How fortunate that the Lord sends good people into any of our lives to strengthen faith and engage us in service. As Jesus has done for each of us, so we also do for one another.  St. Lydia, pray for us.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, we remember with gratitude all soldiers who have given their lives in service to our country. We pray for their families and all who hold them in their hearts.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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May 25, 2014

Acts 8: 5-8. 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Field Hospital Receives the Holy Spirit

Philip preaches outside of Judea as the Church begins its missionary outreach to the world.  Through Philip, the Risen Lord in and through the Church continues to accomplish what Jesus of Nazareth did in his earthly life. He performed signs: unclean spirits are driven out, paralyzed and crippled people are cured. Through Peter and John, the Risen Lord in and through the Church continues to send the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis described the Church as a field hospital for the broken and the hurting of the world. Those who are crippled or paralyzed in body, mind, or spirit must be welcomed to the Church to experience healing and the gift of God’s Spirit.

How welcoming am I to those in need of the field hospital?  Where am I paralyzed or crippled and in need of healing?  How does the Holy Spirit move me to reach out to those in need?

—Fr. Robert Flack, S.J. is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.

Prayer

Your Spirit, Lord, renews the face of the earth: may it renew the depths of our hearts. Come to us, Spirit of the Lord!

Your Spirit, Lord, is life: may it raise us up on the last day. Come to us, Spirit of the Lord!

—Lucien Deiss


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May 24, 2014

Our Lady of the Way

Acts 16: 1-10

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

On Mission With Mary

Today is the Jesuit feast of Our Lady of the Way. Roman devotion to Mary under this title (Madonna della Strada) goes back to a 5th century travelers’ shrine erected in Rome. A small Roman church with a plaster image of Our Lady of the Way was built in the late 14th century. It is here that St. Ignatius Loyola went often to pray. During his years as the first general superior of the Jesuits, he regularly prayed there with and for Jesuits about to be sent on mission to the far corners of the world. The current Jesuit Church of the Gesu was built on the same spot. This special devotion to Mary animates Jesuits to this day, wherever they find themselves “on mission.”

Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles relates the ongoing missionary journeys of St. Paul, this time with Timothy. The mission outreach of the Church down through the ages encompasses the myriad ways the gospel of Jesus has been preached and practiced. Our individual baptism enrolls us in this missionary enterprise. In large and small ways, by word and example, we help the gospel become alive in our interactions with others. Under Mary’s protection we continue the work of Jesus; with her example we find strength to “do whatever he tells you.”  Our Lady of the Way, pray for us!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Holy Mary, mother of Jesus, guide our steps on the often wild and rugged journey of life. When our days here come to the end, be for us the door of heaven, and bring us home to Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


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May 23, 2014

Jn 15: 12-17

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Loving Like Jesus

Jesus explains to his first followers and to us how he desires relationship. He calls us friends and has chosen us. He gives a new commandment; we are to love each other as he loves us. Friends of Jesus follow his love commandment. Our love for Jesus will manifest in the ways we live our faith by ministering to and with everyone.

Jesus’ love is freely given. Jesus’ friends follow his loving example. Jesus appoints us to bear fruit that will last.  That is a huge challenge for imperfect, emotional people.

Let us pray with St Ignatius whose relationship with Jesus allowed him to find God in everything and everyone; all are gifts from God.

By living our love for Jesus and each other, what will be the fruits of our friendship with Jesus?  How can the fruits of our faith express our loving relationships with Jesus and each other?

—Adele Berthelot is a geological technologist. She graduated from Loyola Institute for Ministry (New Orleans) and belongs to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (in Gramercy, Louisiana) where she participates in liturgical and pastoral ministries.

Prayer

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

—Mahatma Gandhi


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May 22, 2014

St. Rita of Cascia

Jn 15: 9-11

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Joy That Is Complete

We all want to be happy. We search for joy in life, often looking in all the wrong places. Today, Jesus offers his joy to us in a total and complete way. We can find that joy in the birth of a baby, in the celebration of milestone events or in service to others.

We are offered complete joy in our relationship with God—by resting in God’s tenderness for us, by trusting in God’s ways, and by remaining in God’s love.

How can I remind myself of God’s tender love for me each day?

How can I share that joy with those I encounter in my day today?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Lord, raise our vigilance to pay attention to those who support us and those who need support from us. Grant us your grace to never miss an opportunity to say thank you. Through an assuring word, through recognition of another’s work, through a smile that invites levity in the moment, let us be an encourager to others. Let us recall your most amazing promise: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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