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May 20, 2019

Jn 14: 21-26

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said 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.

Tending the flame of God’s love

Relationships are fires that need tending.  How do we kindle new flames in the cold dark night?   

Like all our relationships, a relationship with Jesus burns hot and cool.  There are times when we feel connected, illuminated in his love, and other when we feel distant, even separated from his light and heat.   

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares his disciple for when he will leave them and return to the Father.  He tells his friends that by keeping his commandments – “to love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34) – they will always abide in the Father’s love.  Should they forget, Jesus assures that the Holy Spirit will remind and teach them all they need to know.

Of course, the same is true for us.  Loving one another, tending those fires, and confiding in the Spirit, enkindles new flames when the fire cools.

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord,
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional Prayer to the Holy Spirit


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May 19, 2019

Jn 13: 31-33A, 34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for 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.

Pray for those who hurt us

Today’s readings from Acts (Acts 14:21-27) and the Gospel of John address the “time of many hardships.” All of us have experienced or perhaps are currently experiencing “many hardships” at home, at work, or even within ourselves. In many ways, we are not sure how to react to those hardships, especially if they are caused by friends or family.

Jesus’ reaction to Judas’ betrayal is commanding his disciples – us – to love. Jesus also commanded us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray for those who persecute us. Actually, those who persecute us sanctify us. They teach us to be humble. They break our hearts of stone.

Therefore, as a sign of gratitude for that grace of humility, we ought to pray for them. Don’t allow them to fall, for they have participated in our salvation. For, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22)

—-Peter Gadalla, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 2019, and humbly asks for your prayers for his ministry.

Prayer

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

—Traditional prayer


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May 18, 2019

Jn 14: 7-14

If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

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.

Called from darkness into light

Five weeks ago, the world watched helplessly as Notre Dame Cathedral burned.  This beautiful, sacred structure is beloved by the French, Catholics, and the world.  Art historian Kenneth Clark produced the landmark television series Civilization.  In the first installment, standing before Notre Dame Cathedral, he said he could not put into words what “civilization” means; he then pointed to Notre Dame Cathedral and said, “But I think I can recognize it when I see it.”   

Yet it is not the structure itself that is sacred; sacredness comes from people’s hearts.  Notre Dame represents the faith in people’s hearts of a loving God. We don’t know what will happen to this marvelous Cathedral over time, but we do know God’s light will continue to shine from faith-filled hearts.  Out of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus came eternal joy. Out of darkness and hopelessness comes new life.

The first line of a famous prayer by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, is, “Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.” This is the Easter promise of Jesus’s life: “eternal joy.”  Lord, help us to see all with new eyes, with Your eyes.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

“You are a people God claims as his own, to praise him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, alleluia.” (1 Peter 2:9, from the Entrance Antiphon of today’s Mass)

“By the suffering, death, and resurrection of your Son may we come to eternal joy.” (from the Opening Prayer at today’s Mass)

—Prayers from today’s Mass


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May 17, 2019

Jn 14: 1-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through 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.

Faith in the Dark

This passage unsettles me. I read it several times over, feeling my understanding grow murkier with each rereading. I struggle to find solace in the words, which often ring with incendiary tones: but how am I not supposed to let my heart be troubled? I do not know. I only know that in accepting the shadows, I am stronger. When I do not know the way, yet I move forward, I am safe. To my surprise, I find company even there.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

God Speaks to Each of Us

God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:

Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don’t leave me bare.

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is.
Give me your hand.

—Rainer Maria Rilke


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May 16, 2019

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfil the scripture, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”

I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent 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.

Knowing and Doing

Today we revisit the “prologue” to Jesus’ Passion. We return to that room, to that table, and we enter the scene as Jesus is finishing washing the disciples’ feet.  After performing this act of service, this act of love, Jesus reminds us that, “servants are not greater than their master,” and He tells us, “if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus is calling us to know and do. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Knowing the benefits of sunscreen does not reduce the incidence of melanoma. You actually have to apply sunscreen if you want to protect your skin.  Knowing empowers us, it cultivates the desire within us, to do. Knowing God’s love for me empowers me to love – love that manifests itself in deeds, in service. What is Jesus calling you to know and do today?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness

to give us all abundant grace

ever to know his most holy will

and perfectly to fulfill it.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 15, 2019

Jn 12: 44-50

Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.

And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told 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.

A light in the darkness

Light (hope) and darkness (despair) are both realities in our lives, but Jesus is always the light in the darkness. He also sends people to be a light of hope, love, and joy in our lives. Are we open enough to notice and to believe in this light? Who brings us light in our lives today? Do we savor and appreciate these people of light?

Jesus also sends us forth to be light in people’s lives. Who needs hope, love, and joy right now? Who needs our light?

Let us thank Jesus for being the ultimate light of the world showing us that light (hope) will always prevail over darkness (despair) and we pray that we can listen to his call to be light to others.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

God is there all the time, waiting. But, like God’s forgiveness, God’s will to share the divine aliveness with us can’t activate until we invite it. It is the heart-stopping understanding that despite our shortcomings, despite our seeming insignificance to most of those around us, the God who dwells in unapproachable light dwells within us. As he did in a Bethlehem stable.

—William J. O’Malley, SJ


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May 14, 2019

St. Matthias

Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

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.

Surrendering our decisions

Choosing Judas’ successor was a critical appointment for the Apostles. To make this decision, they “gave lots,” the 1st century equivalent of drawing straws.

I teach motivated seniors some of the basic principles of Ignatian discernment. We use the college application process as an opportunity to put these principles into practice. Students question whether God is calling them to go in-state or far away, urban or rural, Marquette or Notre Dame.

At our March meeting, some students still hadn’t settled on a school, and yet spoke beautifully of their sense that God was leading them into the unknown. Very Ignatian! The Apostles in this reading? Not so much.

Discernment quibbles aside, the Apostles’ confidence in God is inspiring. They knew this selection was not theirs to make, but God’s. At this moment, many of us may be agonizing over a critical decision in our work or family life. As we celebrate this feast of St. Matthias, may we take heart in knowing that God can find a way to do great things through very ordinary people.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive
All my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
And my entire will.

As I contemplate this decision, Lord,
Remind me that You go with me everywhere.
Give me only your companionship,
No matter what path I choose.
That is enough for me.

—Adapted from the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 13, 2019

Jn 10: 1-10

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate.

Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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.

The Miracle of Recognition

The word ‘recognize’ comes from the Latin re and cognoscere which together mean ‘to know again.’  We recognize melodies and voices because they were already within us and some experience helped them resurface.  Jesus assures us that, among the cacophony, we recognize his voice. We attune to it because it lives within us. Miraculously, the Good Shepherd’s voice is written on our hearts.

Yet, with numerous competing voices, recognizing Jesus’ voice often requires further reflection.  Ignatian discernment helps us hone in on daily experiences that harmonize with God voice within us.  

The Examen prayer – Ignition discernment’s core practice – helps bring God’s voice to the surface. In the Examen, we reflect on the ‘voices’ we heard throughout the day, in relationships, in art, and in nature.  

The Good Shepherd speaks through people and experiences that bring clarity, a sense of meaning, or lasting peace.

Where have you recognized Jesus’ voice today?

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Daily Examen

  1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
  3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
  4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
  5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”

—A version of the daily Examen


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May 12, 2019

Jn 10: 27-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

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.

Easter joy can’t be snatched away

Today’s Gospel reading is a much-needed note of consolation in a dark time. What with Notre Dame Cathedral a charred wreck, Sri Lanka the site of a coordinated suicide bomb strike, and even the release of the Mueller Report, this has been a hectic, troubled Easter season. Perhaps we should remember that even the first Holy Week was also a troubled time of hurried farewells (the Last Supper on Holy Thursday); injustice, denials, and betrayal unto death (Good Friday); and mourning for the end of an era (Holy Saturday).

But then came Easter Sunday, and it changed everything: not a farewell meal but the inauguration of the Eucharist; not a bitter death but a man saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; not the end of an era, but a new morning for us all.

And so we remember in this Easter season that our Lord knows us by name, and desires eternal life for us; and that if we but follow Him, all that can never be snatched away. Not all the ruined cathedrals, terrorist attacks, and political dramas in the world can take that from us.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. He will be ordained a priest on June 8, 2019.

Prayer

Lord,
We ask you to help us to worship you with gladness and singing,
              even in the dark times of our lives.
Help us to remember that you made us, so that we are your people.
Help us give thanks and praise to you, blessing
               your goodnes
               and your steadfast love
               and your eternal faithfulness to all generations.
Amen.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ


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May 11, 2019

Jn 6:60-69

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.

So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of 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.

To whom can we go?

Who–or what–do you turn to when things get difficult?  For some of us, there might be a trusted friend who you can call at all hours.  For others, it might be the escape of binge watching a tv series. Still others might look to food or drink to comfort us.  But all of these things, even the best of them, are finite. Peter, the apostle who alternates between really understanding Jesus and totally missing the mark, gets it here.  When Jesus asks him where he will turn, Peter replies “Lord, to whom can we go?”

In talking about discerning our path in life, St. Ignatius says that we must first examine the orientation of our lives.  Am I fundamentally oriented toward God, or away from God? Whether we are struggling with a decision, facing adversity, or seeking to follow Jesus’ example more closely, may we orient ourselves toward Jesus and be able to say to him, like Peter, “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
may your death be my life,
your labor my rest,
your human weakness my strength,
your confusion my glory.

St. Pierre Favre, SJ


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May 20, 2019

Jn 14: 21-26

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said 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.

Tending the flame of God’s love

Relationships are fires that need tending.  How do we kindle new flames in the cold dark night?   

Like all our relationships, a relationship with Jesus burns hot and cool.  There are times when we feel connected, illuminated in his love, and other when we feel distant, even separated from his light and heat.   

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares his disciple for when he will leave them and return to the Father.  He tells his friends that by keeping his commandments – “to love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34) – they will always abide in the Father’s love.  Should they forget, Jesus assures that the Holy Spirit will remind and teach them all they need to know.

Of course, the same is true for us.  Loving one another, tending those fires, and confiding in the Spirit, enkindles new flames when the fire cools.

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord,
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional Prayer to the Holy Spirit


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 19, 2019

Jn 13: 31-33A, 34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for 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.

Pray for those who hurt us

Today’s readings from Acts (Acts 14:21-27) and the Gospel of John address the “time of many hardships.” All of us have experienced or perhaps are currently experiencing “many hardships” at home, at work, or even within ourselves. In many ways, we are not sure how to react to those hardships, especially if they are caused by friends or family.

Jesus’ reaction to Judas’ betrayal is commanding his disciples – us – to love. Jesus also commanded us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray for those who persecute us. Actually, those who persecute us sanctify us. They teach us to be humble. They break our hearts of stone.

Therefore, as a sign of gratitude for that grace of humility, we ought to pray for them. Don’t allow them to fall, for they have participated in our salvation. For, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22)

—-Peter Gadalla, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 2019, and humbly asks for your prayers for his ministry.

Prayer

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

—Traditional prayer


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May 18, 2019

Jn 14: 7-14

If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

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.

Called from darkness into light

Five weeks ago, the world watched helplessly as Notre Dame Cathedral burned.  This beautiful, sacred structure is beloved by the French, Catholics, and the world.  Art historian Kenneth Clark produced the landmark television series Civilization.  In the first installment, standing before Notre Dame Cathedral, he said he could not put into words what “civilization” means; he then pointed to Notre Dame Cathedral and said, “But I think I can recognize it when I see it.”   

Yet it is not the structure itself that is sacred; sacredness comes from people’s hearts.  Notre Dame represents the faith in people’s hearts of a loving God. We don’t know what will happen to this marvelous Cathedral over time, but we do know God’s light will continue to shine from faith-filled hearts.  Out of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus came eternal joy. Out of darkness and hopelessness comes new life.

The first line of a famous prayer by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, is, “Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.” This is the Easter promise of Jesus’s life: “eternal joy.”  Lord, help us to see all with new eyes, with Your eyes.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

“You are a people God claims as his own, to praise him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, alleluia.” (1 Peter 2:9, from the Entrance Antiphon of today’s Mass)

“By the suffering, death, and resurrection of your Son may we come to eternal joy.” (from the Opening Prayer at today’s Mass)

—Prayers from today’s Mass


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May 17, 2019

Jn 14: 1-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through 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.

Faith in the Dark

This passage unsettles me. I read it several times over, feeling my understanding grow murkier with each rereading. I struggle to find solace in the words, which often ring with incendiary tones: but how am I not supposed to let my heart be troubled? I do not know. I only know that in accepting the shadows, I am stronger. When I do not know the way, yet I move forward, I am safe. To my surprise, I find company even there.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

God Speaks to Each of Us

God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:

Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don’t leave me bare.

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is.
Give me your hand.

—Rainer Maria Rilke


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May 16, 2019

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfil the scripture, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”

I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent 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.

Knowing and Doing

Today we revisit the “prologue” to Jesus’ Passion. We return to that room, to that table, and we enter the scene as Jesus is finishing washing the disciples’ feet.  After performing this act of service, this act of love, Jesus reminds us that, “servants are not greater than their master,” and He tells us, “if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus is calling us to know and do. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Knowing the benefits of sunscreen does not reduce the incidence of melanoma. You actually have to apply sunscreen if you want to protect your skin.  Knowing empowers us, it cultivates the desire within us, to do. Knowing God’s love for me empowers me to love – love that manifests itself in deeds, in service. What is Jesus calling you to know and do today?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness

to give us all abundant grace

ever to know his most holy will

and perfectly to fulfill it.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 15, 2019

Jn 12: 44-50

Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.

And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told 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.

A light in the darkness

Light (hope) and darkness (despair) are both realities in our lives, but Jesus is always the light in the darkness. He also sends people to be a light of hope, love, and joy in our lives. Are we open enough to notice and to believe in this light? Who brings us light in our lives today? Do we savor and appreciate these people of light?

Jesus also sends us forth to be light in people’s lives. Who needs hope, love, and joy right now? Who needs our light?

Let us thank Jesus for being the ultimate light of the world showing us that light (hope) will always prevail over darkness (despair) and we pray that we can listen to his call to be light to others.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

God is there all the time, waiting. But, like God’s forgiveness, God’s will to share the divine aliveness with us can’t activate until we invite it. It is the heart-stopping understanding that despite our shortcomings, despite our seeming insignificance to most of those around us, the God who dwells in unapproachable light dwells within us. As he did in a Bethlehem stable.

—William J. O’Malley, SJ


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May 14, 2019

St. Matthias

Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

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.

Surrendering our decisions

Choosing Judas’ successor was a critical appointment for the Apostles. To make this decision, they “gave lots,” the 1st century equivalent of drawing straws.

I teach motivated seniors some of the basic principles of Ignatian discernment. We use the college application process as an opportunity to put these principles into practice. Students question whether God is calling them to go in-state or far away, urban or rural, Marquette or Notre Dame.

At our March meeting, some students still hadn’t settled on a school, and yet spoke beautifully of their sense that God was leading them into the unknown. Very Ignatian! The Apostles in this reading? Not so much.

Discernment quibbles aside, the Apostles’ confidence in God is inspiring. They knew this selection was not theirs to make, but God’s. At this moment, many of us may be agonizing over a critical decision in our work or family life. As we celebrate this feast of St. Matthias, may we take heart in knowing that God can find a way to do great things through very ordinary people.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive
All my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
And my entire will.

As I contemplate this decision, Lord,
Remind me that You go with me everywhere.
Give me only your companionship,
No matter what path I choose.
That is enough for me.

—Adapted from the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 13, 2019

Jn 10: 1-10

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate.

Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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.

The Miracle of Recognition

The word ‘recognize’ comes from the Latin re and cognoscere which together mean ‘to know again.’  We recognize melodies and voices because they were already within us and some experience helped them resurface.  Jesus assures us that, among the cacophony, we recognize his voice. We attune to it because it lives within us. Miraculously, the Good Shepherd’s voice is written on our hearts.

Yet, with numerous competing voices, recognizing Jesus’ voice often requires further reflection.  Ignatian discernment helps us hone in on daily experiences that harmonize with God voice within us.  

The Examen prayer – Ignition discernment’s core practice – helps bring God’s voice to the surface. In the Examen, we reflect on the ‘voices’ we heard throughout the day, in relationships, in art, and in nature.  

The Good Shepherd speaks through people and experiences that bring clarity, a sense of meaning, or lasting peace.

Where have you recognized Jesus’ voice today?

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Daily Examen

  1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
  3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
  4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
  5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”

—A version of the daily Examen


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May 12, 2019

Jn 10: 27-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

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.

Easter joy can’t be snatched away

Today’s Gospel reading is a much-needed note of consolation in a dark time. What with Notre Dame Cathedral a charred wreck, Sri Lanka the site of a coordinated suicide bomb strike, and even the release of the Mueller Report, this has been a hectic, troubled Easter season. Perhaps we should remember that even the first Holy Week was also a troubled time of hurried farewells (the Last Supper on Holy Thursday); injustice, denials, and betrayal unto death (Good Friday); and mourning for the end of an era (Holy Saturday).

But then came Easter Sunday, and it changed everything: not a farewell meal but the inauguration of the Eucharist; not a bitter death but a man saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; not the end of an era, but a new morning for us all.

And so we remember in this Easter season that our Lord knows us by name, and desires eternal life for us; and that if we but follow Him, all that can never be snatched away. Not all the ruined cathedrals, terrorist attacks, and political dramas in the world can take that from us.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. He will be ordained a priest on June 8, 2019.

Prayer

Lord,
We ask you to help us to worship you with gladness and singing,
              even in the dark times of our lives.
Help us to remember that you made us, so that we are your people.
Help us give thanks and praise to you, blessing
               your goodnes
               and your steadfast love
               and your eternal faithfulness to all generations.
Amen.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ


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May 11, 2019

Jn 6:60-69

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.

So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of 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.

To whom can we go?

Who–or what–do you turn to when things get difficult?  For some of us, there might be a trusted friend who you can call at all hours.  For others, it might be the escape of binge watching a tv series. Still others might look to food or drink to comfort us.  But all of these things, even the best of them, are finite. Peter, the apostle who alternates between really understanding Jesus and totally missing the mark, gets it here.  When Jesus asks him where he will turn, Peter replies “Lord, to whom can we go?”

In talking about discerning our path in life, St. Ignatius says that we must first examine the orientation of our lives.  Am I fundamentally oriented toward God, or away from God? Whether we are struggling with a decision, facing adversity, or seeking to follow Jesus’ example more closely, may we orient ourselves toward Jesus and be able to say to him, like Peter, “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
may your death be my life,
your labor my rest,
your human weakness my strength,
your confusion my glory.

St. Pierre Favre, SJ


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