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November 19, 2017

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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.

Small acts of kindness

“Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.”

Recently, some students and I were talking about loving others. The conversation turned to laundry. Jesuits and undergraduates alike sometimes face the dilemma of what to do with laundry that someone else has left. Get angry, and just throw it on the floor in a pile? Or, put that energy into quietly folding that known-or-unknown person’s laundry? Suddenly, everyone had a story of how someone’s unexpected—and perhaps unwarranted–kindness had helped them feel loved. The truth of today’s Gospel seems to unfold when we choose to love in small matters such as these. It forms a habit of heart that makes us more likely to love without seeking a return. When, in larger matters, we then respond in the same way, our love, talents and Christ-likeness shine through. We realize that no God-given gift is too small when undertaking the great responsibility of sharing the love and joy of Christ with each other.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the gift of turning annoyance into kindness. Help me to love unnecessarily, seeking nothing in return. Dispose me to presume another’s best intentions and see their gifts, even when I am skeptical. Forgive me when I fail to show kindness, and to use the gifts you have given me. Instead, help me to overcome my fears and multiply my talents in matters both great and small. And, in doing so, may I come to know your joy.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 


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November 18, 2017

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Lk 18: 1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

Answered prayers

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect.  A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu, alleluia

Man shall not live by bread alone
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Allelu, alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Allelu, alleluia

—Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, © 1972 CCCM Music/Maranatha! Music

 


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November 17, 2017

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Ps 19: 2-3, 4-5AB

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with 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.

Finding God

On a recent morning I walked through a crowded college campus during a class break while hurrying to a meeting. A horde of students hung around the central campus plaza, glued to their cellphones. Some seemed to be listening to music; others were frantically texting with friends, perhaps afraid of what they might have missed during class. One student was laughing out loud while reading some tweet; I imagined another was keeping in the loop with a good friend.

St. Ignatius challenges us to “find God in all things” – to tease out God’s presence embedded within all the activities we cram into our daily living. Throughout the coming weekend, as I look forward to Thanksgiving Day, where and how do I meet and find God through those I tweet with, folks I work and study with, those I live with? This season of thanksgiving reminds me to be truly grateful for my time and talents, for the opportunities and blessings I receive, for God’s loving, life-giving presence within my heart … in all I accomplish each day. For all of this energy and activity — thank you, my God!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

Prayer

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and at my departing.

—Sarum Primer, 1527

 


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November 16, 2017

St. Margaret of Scotland & St. Gertrude

Lk 17: 20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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.

Co-laborers in the kingdom

Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tries to explain what the kingdom of God is like. Using images of the mustard seed and yeast, Luke leaves his readers with the sense that despite small beginnings, the kingdom will indeed grow.

For his hearers, who expect a Messiah to come in a visible display of power, Jesus tries to rid them of the notion that the kingdom will suddenly appear by fiat, and that we can concern ourselves merely with the timing of it all. Rather, Jesus points to the cross as the path through which God’s reign would come.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes God as one who “labors” with us. Like the one who plants the seeds or mixes the yeast with flour, we are called to be co-laborers with God in the here and now.

What are the signs of the kingdom’s presence in your life and community? How can your labor today be leaven for the kingdom?

—Marty Kelly is an Associate Chaplain at College of the Holy Cross and a Regional Coordinator for Contemplative Leaders in Action in Boston.

Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us…

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

—Excerpt of A Step Along the Way by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, MI, commonly attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero

 


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November 15, 2017

St. Albert the Great

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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.

Go, be cleansed, and be thankful

When I pray with this passage, I notice the way Jesus emphasizes action: “go, show yourselves … stand up and go.” The lepers are cleansed while they’re in the act of “going.”

While we know we don’t earn our way to salvation, (Jesus has already done that for us), it seems that the lepers are expected to do something, even if it’s just being grateful. Jesus offers healing because they approach him in faith, calling him “master” and asking for what they need. “Your faith has saved you.”

But Jesus is disappointed in their lack of gratitude. Even a Samaritan – an outsider, a foreigner – has given thanks. The others didn’t bother. Do we Christians, the “insiders” who should know better, give Jesus the proper thanks for his cleansing, healing presence in our lives?

Do we live our lives as an active response to God’s continuous love for us?

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God.

—Henri Nouwen, from The Return of the Prodigal Son (Image Books, Doubleday, 1992)

 

 

 

 

 


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November 14, 2017

St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ

Lk 17: 7-10

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’?

Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

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.

Personal relationship with God

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a personal relationship with God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples, telling them what this relationship entails. Often we expect something in return for our good deeds, for our faith commitment. Yet, Jesus critiques this sort of thinking, characteristic of the Pharisees in his time who considered their fulfillment of the law as a guarantee of their eternal reward. Jesus reminds us that our discipleship is not a matter of seeking rewards or returns for our good deeds; rather, it is one of deep love and humble, selfless service.

Do I expect certain “returns” in my relationship with God? Or is God’s love and grace enough for me?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Take Lord, receive,
All I have and possess.
You have given unto me,
Now I return it.
Give me only your love, and your grace,
that’s enough for me!

—”Take, Lord, Receive,” © 1975, 1996, John Foley, SJ and OCP

 

 

 


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November 13, 2017

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ

Lk 17: 1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

Ask for the grace we seek

Today’s Gospel holds a special place in my heart. As a high school campus minister, I heard this passage read as part of evening prayer on 18 Kairos retreats. We used this Gospel story for two primary reasons: first, to introduce students to Ignatian contemplation, using their imagination to enter into the story, and secondly, to underscore St. Ignatius’s encouragement to retreatants to ask God for the grace we seek.

In prayer, it can feel so daring to ask for what we need. And yet, this is an essential dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises and of the spiritual life more broadly. We are invited to befriend our deepest desires, to turn to God and name that which we seek.

Here, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I imagine Jesus is asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”

How do I respond?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

—Excerpt of the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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November 12, 2017

PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

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.

On the lookout for God

“I will remember you upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on you.”

In the age of television “binge-watching,” I couldn’t help but imagine that this line from today’s psalm, as translated here, might suggest that even a “couch potato” could be thirsting for God. I’ve developed a habit of trying to hear God’s voice, wherever it can be found, including in movies, TV, literature and popular music. I am attracted by the common, ordinary human sentiment these stories contain. The desire for God leaping from the screen! Seeing that, I cannot remain a passive consumer. Instead, I become an active evangelist for the God I meet there, the “couch” only a place of watchful waiting for a message that must be shared with the real people God gives to me, who, in turn, share their God-story with me. Together we can cultivate a habit of awareness, always on the lookout for God, from couch to church to commonplace–a community constantly anticipating God’s arrival, God’s presence.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to the signs of your presence all around me. Let me recognize you in places expected and unexpected. Give me the courage and the openness to be surprised by wonder at the ways that you wish to make yourself known to me. May I never fear your coming, but thirst for and welcome it. And, by your mercy, help me to be ready to answer your call, so that I may invite others to keep watch with me, and that together we may rejoice in your presence in us and among us.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 


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November 11, 2017

St. Martin of Tours

Rom 16: 3-9. 16. 22-27

Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

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.

Gospel without borders

In today’s reading from St. Paul to the Romans, Paul sends a long list of greetings to establish a connection between himself and congregations whom he had yet to encounter personally.  While the names may be equally unfamiliar to our modern eyes, it is notable in that it contains both Jewish and Gentile names.  The gospel message of Jesus was not (and indeed still is not!) limited to a particular group.  Our responsibility as followers of Christ is, like Paul, to reach across boundaries to invite everyone into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Today we celebrate Veterans Day.  This day, chosen because it marks the signing of the armistice in 1918 that ended World War I, can be a reminder to all of us of the great toll that hatred and division can take on our world.  How are you be invited to reach across a divide to meet a brother or sister in Christ?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace, who are yourself our peace and reconciliation, who so often said, “Peace to you,” grant us peace. Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice, and brotherly love. Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace. Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace. May all peoples of the earth becomes as brothers and sisters. May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all.

—St. John XXIII

 


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November 10, 2017

St. Leo the Great

Rom 15: 14-21

I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.

Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”

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.

God’s Spirit at Work

The apostle Paul reminds us today that, in so many positive ways, we are in fact “full of goodness.” He suggests that I pay attention to what Jesus is accomplishing through my attitudes and actions. Insignificant as these may seem at the time, who knows what practical “signs and wonders” I might be able to bring about as I go about my daily routine.

So how can I use my time and talents to help a family member who isn’t doing so well? In school or at work today, how might I reach out to a friend in need? Most often it isn’t the “great deeds” that make the difference. Rather my attitude and outlook shape my interaction with others in very practical and sometimes surprising ways. When all is said and done, it really isn’t about me at all. It’s about how I let God’s good grace help me make thoughtful decisions, especially in the ways I reach out to those I meet. Sometimes it isn’t what I say to someone else; rather it’s about how the other person “hears” and “understands” my words and actions. Pay attention during today’s encounters and conversations to the practical ways the Spirit of God is at work!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

Prayer

Jesus-
You are the way, the truth, the life.
Show me the way that I may go.
Teach me your truth, that I may know.
Give me your grace, that I may grow
Eternally.
Amen.

—Ted Tracy, SJ

 


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November 19, 2017

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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.

Small acts of kindness

“Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.”

Recently, some students and I were talking about loving others. The conversation turned to laundry. Jesuits and undergraduates alike sometimes face the dilemma of what to do with laundry that someone else has left. Get angry, and just throw it on the floor in a pile? Or, put that energy into quietly folding that known-or-unknown person’s laundry? Suddenly, everyone had a story of how someone’s unexpected—and perhaps unwarranted–kindness had helped them feel loved. The truth of today’s Gospel seems to unfold when we choose to love in small matters such as these. It forms a habit of heart that makes us more likely to love without seeking a return. When, in larger matters, we then respond in the same way, our love, talents and Christ-likeness shine through. We realize that no God-given gift is too small when undertaking the great responsibility of sharing the love and joy of Christ with each other.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the gift of turning annoyance into kindness. Help me to love unnecessarily, seeking nothing in return. Dispose me to presume another’s best intentions and see their gifts, even when I am skeptical. Forgive me when I fail to show kindness, and to use the gifts you have given me. Instead, help me to overcome my fears and multiply my talents in matters both great and small. And, in doing so, may I come to know your joy.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 


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November 18, 2017

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Lk 18: 1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

Answered prayers

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect.  A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu, alleluia

Man shall not live by bread alone
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Allelu, alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Allelu, alleluia

—Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, © 1972 CCCM Music/Maranatha! Music

 


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November 17, 2017

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Ps 19: 2-3, 4-5AB

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with 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.

Finding God

On a recent morning I walked through a crowded college campus during a class break while hurrying to a meeting. A horde of students hung around the central campus plaza, glued to their cellphones. Some seemed to be listening to music; others were frantically texting with friends, perhaps afraid of what they might have missed during class. One student was laughing out loud while reading some tweet; I imagined another was keeping in the loop with a good friend.

St. Ignatius challenges us to “find God in all things” – to tease out God’s presence embedded within all the activities we cram into our daily living. Throughout the coming weekend, as I look forward to Thanksgiving Day, where and how do I meet and find God through those I tweet with, folks I work and study with, those I live with? This season of thanksgiving reminds me to be truly grateful for my time and talents, for the opportunities and blessings I receive, for God’s loving, life-giving presence within my heart … in all I accomplish each day. For all of this energy and activity — thank you, my God!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

Prayer

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and at my departing.

—Sarum Primer, 1527

 


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November 16, 2017

St. Margaret of Scotland & St. Gertrude

Lk 17: 20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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.

Co-laborers in the kingdom

Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tries to explain what the kingdom of God is like. Using images of the mustard seed and yeast, Luke leaves his readers with the sense that despite small beginnings, the kingdom will indeed grow.

For his hearers, who expect a Messiah to come in a visible display of power, Jesus tries to rid them of the notion that the kingdom will suddenly appear by fiat, and that we can concern ourselves merely with the timing of it all. Rather, Jesus points to the cross as the path through which God’s reign would come.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes God as one who “labors” with us. Like the one who plants the seeds or mixes the yeast with flour, we are called to be co-laborers with God in the here and now.

What are the signs of the kingdom’s presence in your life and community? How can your labor today be leaven for the kingdom?

—Marty Kelly is an Associate Chaplain at College of the Holy Cross and a Regional Coordinator for Contemplative Leaders in Action in Boston.

Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us…

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

—Excerpt of A Step Along the Way by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, MI, commonly attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero

 


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November 15, 2017

St. Albert the Great

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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.

Go, be cleansed, and be thankful

When I pray with this passage, I notice the way Jesus emphasizes action: “go, show yourselves … stand up and go.” The lepers are cleansed while they’re in the act of “going.”

While we know we don’t earn our way to salvation, (Jesus has already done that for us), it seems that the lepers are expected to do something, even if it’s just being grateful. Jesus offers healing because they approach him in faith, calling him “master” and asking for what they need. “Your faith has saved you.”

But Jesus is disappointed in their lack of gratitude. Even a Samaritan – an outsider, a foreigner – has given thanks. The others didn’t bother. Do we Christians, the “insiders” who should know better, give Jesus the proper thanks for his cleansing, healing presence in our lives?

Do we live our lives as an active response to God’s continuous love for us?

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God.

—Henri Nouwen, from The Return of the Prodigal Son (Image Books, Doubleday, 1992)

 

 

 

 

 


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November 14, 2017

St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ

Lk 17: 7-10

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’?

Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

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.

Personal relationship with God

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a personal relationship with God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples, telling them what this relationship entails. Often we expect something in return for our good deeds, for our faith commitment. Yet, Jesus critiques this sort of thinking, characteristic of the Pharisees in his time who considered their fulfillment of the law as a guarantee of their eternal reward. Jesus reminds us that our discipleship is not a matter of seeking rewards or returns for our good deeds; rather, it is one of deep love and humble, selfless service.

Do I expect certain “returns” in my relationship with God? Or is God’s love and grace enough for me?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Take Lord, receive,
All I have and possess.
You have given unto me,
Now I return it.
Give me only your love, and your grace,
that’s enough for me!

—”Take, Lord, Receive,” © 1975, 1996, John Foley, SJ and OCP

 

 

 


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November 13, 2017

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ

Lk 17: 1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

Ask for the grace we seek

Today’s Gospel holds a special place in my heart. As a high school campus minister, I heard this passage read as part of evening prayer on 18 Kairos retreats. We used this Gospel story for two primary reasons: first, to introduce students to Ignatian contemplation, using their imagination to enter into the story, and secondly, to underscore St. Ignatius’s encouragement to retreatants to ask God for the grace we seek.

In prayer, it can feel so daring to ask for what we need. And yet, this is an essential dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises and of the spiritual life more broadly. We are invited to befriend our deepest desires, to turn to God and name that which we seek.

Here, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I imagine Jesus is asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”

How do I respond?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

—Excerpt of the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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November 12, 2017

PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

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.

On the lookout for God

“I will remember you upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on you.”

In the age of television “binge-watching,” I couldn’t help but imagine that this line from today’s psalm, as translated here, might suggest that even a “couch potato” could be thirsting for God. I’ve developed a habit of trying to hear God’s voice, wherever it can be found, including in movies, TV, literature and popular music. I am attracted by the common, ordinary human sentiment these stories contain. The desire for God leaping from the screen! Seeing that, I cannot remain a passive consumer. Instead, I become an active evangelist for the God I meet there, the “couch” only a place of watchful waiting for a message that must be shared with the real people God gives to me, who, in turn, share their God-story with me. Together we can cultivate a habit of awareness, always on the lookout for God, from couch to church to commonplace–a community constantly anticipating God’s arrival, God’s presence.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to the signs of your presence all around me. Let me recognize you in places expected and unexpected. Give me the courage and the openness to be surprised by wonder at the ways that you wish to make yourself known to me. May I never fear your coming, but thirst for and welcome it. And, by your mercy, help me to be ready to answer your call, so that I may invite others to keep watch with me, and that together we may rejoice in your presence in us and among us.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 


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November 11, 2017

St. Martin of Tours

Rom 16: 3-9. 16. 22-27

Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

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.

Gospel without borders

In today’s reading from St. Paul to the Romans, Paul sends a long list of greetings to establish a connection between himself and congregations whom he had yet to encounter personally.  While the names may be equally unfamiliar to our modern eyes, it is notable in that it contains both Jewish and Gentile names.  The gospel message of Jesus was not (and indeed still is not!) limited to a particular group.  Our responsibility as followers of Christ is, like Paul, to reach across boundaries to invite everyone into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Today we celebrate Veterans Day.  This day, chosen because it marks the signing of the armistice in 1918 that ended World War I, can be a reminder to all of us of the great toll that hatred and division can take on our world.  How are you be invited to reach across a divide to meet a brother or sister in Christ?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace, who are yourself our peace and reconciliation, who so often said, “Peace to you,” grant us peace. Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice, and brotherly love. Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace. Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace. May all peoples of the earth becomes as brothers and sisters. May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all.

—St. John XXIII

 


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November 10, 2017

St. Leo the Great

Rom 15: 14-21

I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.

Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”

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.

God’s Spirit at Work

The apostle Paul reminds us today that, in so many positive ways, we are in fact “full of goodness.” He suggests that I pay attention to what Jesus is accomplishing through my attitudes and actions. Insignificant as these may seem at the time, who knows what practical “signs and wonders” I might be able to bring about as I go about my daily routine.

So how can I use my time and talents to help a family member who isn’t doing so well? In school or at work today, how might I reach out to a friend in need? Most often it isn’t the “great deeds” that make the difference. Rather my attitude and outlook shape my interaction with others in very practical and sometimes surprising ways. When all is said and done, it really isn’t about me at all. It’s about how I let God’s good grace help me make thoughtful decisions, especially in the ways I reach out to those I meet. Sometimes it isn’t what I say to someone else; rather it’s about how the other person “hears” and “understands” my words and actions. Pay attention during today’s encounters and conversations to the practical ways the Spirit of God is at work!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

Prayer

Jesus-
You are the way, the truth, the life.
Show me the way that I may go.
Teach me your truth, that I may know.
Give me your grace, that I may grow
Eternally.
Amen.

—Ted Tracy, SJ

 


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