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May 31, 2020

Pentecost

Jn 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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.

Breathing the new life of grace

“He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” St. John tells us that this experience of Pentecost occurred on Easter night in this scene in the Upper Room. He saw that it continued the event that began on Good Friday when Jesus “gave up his spirit,” falling into death but thereby releasing his Holy Spirit into the world. Here now on Easter, on “the first day of the week” –  which calls to mind the first day of Creation – Jesus communicated his Spirit, breathing the new life of grace into his disciples. In so doing, he ushered in the new Creation, just as God had first breathed life into Adam at the dawn of human life on earth (Gen. 2). Now the followers of Jesus would play their part in sharing his Spirit, bringing redeeming life to the souls of a waiting humanity. 

Fr. Rick McGurn, SJ, is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. 

Prayer

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

—Text of “Come, Holy Ghost” attributed to Rabanus Maurus, translated by Edward Caswell


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May 30, 2020

EX 19:3-8A, 16-20B (Readings from Pentecost Vigil Mass)

Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’

So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. 

As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

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 comforting presence with us

As a liturgical musician, I cannot recall a single funeral Mass that did not include the beloved Michael Joncas classic, “On Eagles’ Wings.” Perhaps it’s the song’s wide range…its striking imagery…its emotional breadth…or simply people’s familiarity with it. Something about Joncas’ hymn, based in part on today’s passage from Exodus, soothes people’s grieving souls.

As we celebrate Pentecost, we are reminded of this earlier scene from God’s love story with God’s people. Calling the people to covenantal relationship, God tells them who they are and who they are called to be: born on eagles’ wings and brought to Godself, treasured, priestly, and holy. Amid this pandemic, many of us have ached for such assurance of God’s protection and ongoing presence with us.

Though likely not in lighting, clouds, and trumpet blasts, where, when, and with whom have I felt God’s comforting embrace? How can I invite God into my grief?     

Katie Davis-Crowder, MDiv (Loyola University Chicago), works as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep and volunteers with the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of his hand.

—Refrain from On Eagles Wings by Michael Joncas, © 1979, 1991 by New Dawn Music


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May 29, 2020

Jn 21: 15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow 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.

Feed my sheep

Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times in a row and Peter says he does three times.  Why does Jesus do this so redundantly?  Why then ask him to “Feed my lambs… Tend to my sheep… and Feed my sheep.”  Perhaps if we put ourselves into Peter’s shoes we can answer why. 

How often do we hear that Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, but we find ourselves too busy to help someone?  How often do we hear that we should share our faith with others, but find ourselves coming up with an excuse not to share our faith?  How often do we have an opportunity to help the poor, but instead purchase something for ourselves or someone else who has more than enough?

What can you do today to show Jesus that you love him by either feeding his lambs, tending his sheep, or feeding his sheep? 

Tom Cattapan is the Associate Director of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL and a graduate of Marquette University

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 28, 2020

Jn 17: 20-26

”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The glory of God is love

What is the glory of God? It is, in one word, love. Whenever and wherever love is operative, it gives glory to God.

The sum of our faith, the focal point of all discernment, and the law by which we are to live is love. If I seek for God—look to love, and God is there. So, too, wisdom, justice, mercy, and right action—all are found in active love.

In the Contemplation to Love as God Loves from the Spiritual Exercises, the grace I ask for is a deep inner knowing of all the great good I have received from God, so that being entirely grateful, I may be able to love and serve God in everything.  It is what Jesus prays for us: “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”. Beg for this grace.

Paula Sapienza is a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will —
        all I have and possess.
You gave it all to me; to you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours.  Dispose of it wholly according to your will.
Give me only love of you and your grace.  That is enough for me.

—Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 27, 2020

Acts 20: 28-30

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Continuing the mission

Today’s readings parallel each other closely. In Acts, Paul bids farewell to the Ephesians after spending three years with them, instructing and leading the community. He affirms them for their work and commissions them to continue the mission of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. He also forewarns them of the dangers that may lay ahead and commends them to God. He reminds them of his hard work and that giving is better than receiving. They show strong emotions at his leaving, hugging and kissing him farewell.

John’s Gospel (Jn 17: 11B-19) tells us of Jesus’s prayer just before his arrest. Teaching and leading the disciples for the past three years, Jesus asks his Father to continue to protect them because Jesus is returning to the Father. He proclaims that he is one with the Father and that disciples may be one with him also. He sends the disciples into the world as the Father sent him, and prays they be protected from the Evil One as Jesus consecrates himself for them.

I wonder why the disciples sit in silence hearing of this farewell and commissioning? Perhaps silence could be a good start to this day as we pray with Jesus and his desire to be one with us as we continue his mission.

—Joe Spina is a former member of the Parish Mission Team of the Archdiocese of New York as well as working in prison ministry. He trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through the Center for Spirituality and Justice in Bronx, NY. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son to show us the way to you, strengthen our resolve to be more like him in all we do this day. Take away our fear and replace it with a greater knowledge that you are near protecting and leading us in all we do. May the Light of Christ illumine the darkness within and heal our unbelief. Amen.

—Joe Spina


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May 26, 2020

St. Philip Neri

Jn 17: 1-11a

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we 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.

How to glorify God

To glorify someone or something is to draw our attention to it. Since some form of this word appears five times in the opening five verses, it’s pretty clear Jesus is concerned about glory. Jesus glorifies his Father by accomplishing the work the Father has asked him to do. 

St. Ignatius was also concerned about glory, as is clear from the so-called “motto” of the Society of Jesus: “For the greater glory of God.” Like Jesus, for St. Ignatius, glorifying God isn’t really about words, but about actions (Exercises §230). 

The Father and the Son glorify one another because they are truly one. Therefore, the best way for you and me to glorify God is to so fully and completely imitate Jesus in all we do and say. When I love, I become a lens which can help others refocus their attention on God who is love itself.  

Matthew Stewart, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province preparing for priestly ordination in August.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly,
that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. 

Shine through us, and be so in us,
that every person we should come in contact with
may feel your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus.

Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as you shine;
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, Jesus, will be all from you.
None of it will be ours.
It will be you shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best,
by shining on those around us.
Let us preach you without preaching:
not by words, but by our example,
by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what we do,
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear for you.
Amen.

—St. Teresa of Calcutta


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May 25, 2020

Jn 16: 29-33

His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. 

Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

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.

We will not be left alone

Jesus the Leader.  He is quite a selfless leader in this passage and is showing great leadership qualities during a challenging time. 

First, he is preparing the disciples for the inevitable: his departure.  In a loving but firm way, he was able to level with the disciples as he says “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.” 

He also shows great courage as he knows the disciples will leave him (“you will be scattered, each one to his home”) and ultimately, he will end up alone.  Knowing this gives him great peace because he knows and trusts that God will always be with him-a calming realization.  This is what God wants for us: Peace.

When you hit a turbulent or challenging time, how do you react or lead?  If we can trust in God’s presence with us, it should allow us to realize we are never alone.

Dan O’Brien is a graduate of Loyola Academy and John Carroll University.  He has worked for the Jesuits for 20 years and currently serves as a Regional Advancement Director for the Midwest Jesuits based in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Loving God, we know that you are with us always, in times of joy and times of trial.  Give us the peace that comes only from a relationship with you, so that we can respond to situations in a loving way.  May we always remember that we are not alone. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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May 24, 2020

Ascension of Jesus

Acts 1: 1-11

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

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.

Awaiting the Kingdom

“This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” On that day, Jesus rose above the familiar boundaries of our earthly reality. While his ascent appeared to be a literal rising upwards, in reality it was a rising into another dimension, drawn into the “cloud” of the Father’s presence and so passing beyond their sight. And yet, the “heaven” into which Jesus rose is not a far distant realm. Indeed, it is no longer entirely distinct from earth. Jesus’ humanity now enjoys divine splendor, but retains its own reality, a sign to us that earth itself is destined to be transformed and imbued with the life of heaven. We wait in faith, hope, and active charity, for that finality to come about, when Jesus will return to bring the Kingdom to completion.

Fr. Rick McGurn, SJ, is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. 

Prayer

‘Marana tha,’ Our Lord, Come!


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May 23, 2020

Jn 16: 23b-28

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. 

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

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.

Come to God as you are

As I write this reflection, Mother’s Day has just passed. While there’s much to appreciate about my mom, I believe that what she and my late dad did best as my sister and I grew up was to delight in their children. They reveled in us being us—gifted and flawed—and we knew it. 

At first glance, the essence of today’s Gospel seems to be contained in the first sentence; ask God, in Jesus’ name, for whatever you need, and you will receive it. While the clarity and generosity of this truth offer comfort, I am drawn instead to the second half of Jesus’ declaration. Go to God directly, as you are, he clarifies. God our Creator, the one Jesus calls Father, already loves us…already knows us…already delights in us.

What do I need from God today? What prevents me from going to God and asking for what I need?   

Katie Davis-Crowder, MDiv (Loyola University Chicago), works as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep and volunteers with the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Behold God beholding you…and smiling.

—Anthony De Mello, SJ


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May 22, 2020

Jn 16: 20-23

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Grief and pain becoming joy

Jesus mentions the pain and forgetfulness of childbirth in today’s Gospel reading.  I have witnessed my wife give birth twice, and I must confess I am glad I didn’t go through it.  I’m grateful that my wife and other mothers tell me they don’t remember the pain. 

While many of us have never given birth, we can relate to many struggles in our lives that are painful to endure, but bring new life and joy once they pass.  Overcoming an illness, finding a new job, or a tough work project can seem impossible to accomplish at times.  Yet, once we are finally able to turn the corner, we realize the joy of being healthy again, finding a better job, or success of completing a challenging project.

During this month of May, what grace do we need to ask of our Mother Mary to help us through our current “labor pains?” 

Tom Cattapan is the Associate Director of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL and a graduate of Marquette University

Prayer

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer


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May 31, 2020

Pentecost

Jn 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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.

Breathing the new life of grace

“He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” St. John tells us that this experience of Pentecost occurred on Easter night in this scene in the Upper Room. He saw that it continued the event that began on Good Friday when Jesus “gave up his spirit,” falling into death but thereby releasing his Holy Spirit into the world. Here now on Easter, on “the first day of the week” –  which calls to mind the first day of Creation – Jesus communicated his Spirit, breathing the new life of grace into his disciples. In so doing, he ushered in the new Creation, just as God had first breathed life into Adam at the dawn of human life on earth (Gen. 2). Now the followers of Jesus would play their part in sharing his Spirit, bringing redeeming life to the souls of a waiting humanity. 

Fr. Rick McGurn, SJ, is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. 

Prayer

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

—Text of “Come, Holy Ghost” attributed to Rabanus Maurus, translated by Edward Caswell


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 30, 2020

EX 19:3-8A, 16-20B (Readings from Pentecost Vigil Mass)

Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’

So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. 

As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

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 comforting presence with us

As a liturgical musician, I cannot recall a single funeral Mass that did not include the beloved Michael Joncas classic, “On Eagles’ Wings.” Perhaps it’s the song’s wide range…its striking imagery…its emotional breadth…or simply people’s familiarity with it. Something about Joncas’ hymn, based in part on today’s passage from Exodus, soothes people’s grieving souls.

As we celebrate Pentecost, we are reminded of this earlier scene from God’s love story with God’s people. Calling the people to covenantal relationship, God tells them who they are and who they are called to be: born on eagles’ wings and brought to Godself, treasured, priestly, and holy. Amid this pandemic, many of us have ached for such assurance of God’s protection and ongoing presence with us.

Though likely not in lighting, clouds, and trumpet blasts, where, when, and with whom have I felt God’s comforting embrace? How can I invite God into my grief?     

Katie Davis-Crowder, MDiv (Loyola University Chicago), works as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep and volunteers with the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of his hand.

—Refrain from On Eagles Wings by Michael Joncas, © 1979, 1991 by New Dawn Music


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 29, 2020

Jn 21: 15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow 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.

Feed my sheep

Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times in a row and Peter says he does three times.  Why does Jesus do this so redundantly?  Why then ask him to “Feed my lambs… Tend to my sheep… and Feed my sheep.”  Perhaps if we put ourselves into Peter’s shoes we can answer why. 

How often do we hear that Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, but we find ourselves too busy to help someone?  How often do we hear that we should share our faith with others, but find ourselves coming up with an excuse not to share our faith?  How often do we have an opportunity to help the poor, but instead purchase something for ourselves or someone else who has more than enough?

What can you do today to show Jesus that you love him by either feeding his lambs, tending his sheep, or feeding his sheep? 

Tom Cattapan is the Associate Director of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL and a graduate of Marquette University

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 28, 2020

Jn 17: 20-26

”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The glory of God is love

What is the glory of God? It is, in one word, love. Whenever and wherever love is operative, it gives glory to God.

The sum of our faith, the focal point of all discernment, and the law by which we are to live is love. If I seek for God—look to love, and God is there. So, too, wisdom, justice, mercy, and right action—all are found in active love.

In the Contemplation to Love as God Loves from the Spiritual Exercises, the grace I ask for is a deep inner knowing of all the great good I have received from God, so that being entirely grateful, I may be able to love and serve God in everything.  It is what Jesus prays for us: “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”. Beg for this grace.

Paula Sapienza is a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will —
        all I have and possess.
You gave it all to me; to you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours.  Dispose of it wholly according to your will.
Give me only love of you and your grace.  That is enough for me.

—Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 27, 2020

Acts 20: 28-30

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Continuing the mission

Today’s readings parallel each other closely. In Acts, Paul bids farewell to the Ephesians after spending three years with them, instructing and leading the community. He affirms them for their work and commissions them to continue the mission of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. He also forewarns them of the dangers that may lay ahead and commends them to God. He reminds them of his hard work and that giving is better than receiving. They show strong emotions at his leaving, hugging and kissing him farewell.

John’s Gospel (Jn 17: 11B-19) tells us of Jesus’s prayer just before his arrest. Teaching and leading the disciples for the past three years, Jesus asks his Father to continue to protect them because Jesus is returning to the Father. He proclaims that he is one with the Father and that disciples may be one with him also. He sends the disciples into the world as the Father sent him, and prays they be protected from the Evil One as Jesus consecrates himself for them.

I wonder why the disciples sit in silence hearing of this farewell and commissioning? Perhaps silence could be a good start to this day as we pray with Jesus and his desire to be one with us as we continue his mission.

—Joe Spina is a former member of the Parish Mission Team of the Archdiocese of New York as well as working in prison ministry. He trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through the Center for Spirituality and Justice in Bronx, NY. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son to show us the way to you, strengthen our resolve to be more like him in all we do this day. Take away our fear and replace it with a greater knowledge that you are near protecting and leading us in all we do. May the Light of Christ illumine the darkness within and heal our unbelief. Amen.

—Joe Spina


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May 26, 2020

St. Philip Neri

Jn 17: 1-11a

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we 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.

How to glorify God

To glorify someone or something is to draw our attention to it. Since some form of this word appears five times in the opening five verses, it’s pretty clear Jesus is concerned about glory. Jesus glorifies his Father by accomplishing the work the Father has asked him to do. 

St. Ignatius was also concerned about glory, as is clear from the so-called “motto” of the Society of Jesus: “For the greater glory of God.” Like Jesus, for St. Ignatius, glorifying God isn’t really about words, but about actions (Exercises §230). 

The Father and the Son glorify one another because they are truly one. Therefore, the best way for you and me to glorify God is to so fully and completely imitate Jesus in all we do and say. When I love, I become a lens which can help others refocus their attention on God who is love itself.  

Matthew Stewart, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province preparing for priestly ordination in August.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly,
that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. 

Shine through us, and be so in us,
that every person we should come in contact with
may feel your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus.

Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as you shine;
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, Jesus, will be all from you.
None of it will be ours.
It will be you shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best,
by shining on those around us.
Let us preach you without preaching:
not by words, but by our example,
by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what we do,
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear for you.
Amen.

—St. Teresa of Calcutta


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May 25, 2020

Jn 16: 29-33

His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. 

Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

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.

We will not be left alone

Jesus the Leader.  He is quite a selfless leader in this passage and is showing great leadership qualities during a challenging time. 

First, he is preparing the disciples for the inevitable: his departure.  In a loving but firm way, he was able to level with the disciples as he says “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.” 

He also shows great courage as he knows the disciples will leave him (“you will be scattered, each one to his home”) and ultimately, he will end up alone.  Knowing this gives him great peace because he knows and trusts that God will always be with him-a calming realization.  This is what God wants for us: Peace.

When you hit a turbulent or challenging time, how do you react or lead?  If we can trust in God’s presence with us, it should allow us to realize we are never alone.

Dan O’Brien is a graduate of Loyola Academy and John Carroll University.  He has worked for the Jesuits for 20 years and currently serves as a Regional Advancement Director for the Midwest Jesuits based in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Loving God, we know that you are with us always, in times of joy and times of trial.  Give us the peace that comes only from a relationship with you, so that we can respond to situations in a loving way.  May we always remember that we are not alone. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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May 24, 2020

Ascension of Jesus

Acts 1: 1-11

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

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.

Awaiting the Kingdom

“This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” On that day, Jesus rose above the familiar boundaries of our earthly reality. While his ascent appeared to be a literal rising upwards, in reality it was a rising into another dimension, drawn into the “cloud” of the Father’s presence and so passing beyond their sight. And yet, the “heaven” into which Jesus rose is not a far distant realm. Indeed, it is no longer entirely distinct from earth. Jesus’ humanity now enjoys divine splendor, but retains its own reality, a sign to us that earth itself is destined to be transformed and imbued with the life of heaven. We wait in faith, hope, and active charity, for that finality to come about, when Jesus will return to bring the Kingdom to completion.

Fr. Rick McGurn, SJ, is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. 

Prayer

‘Marana tha,’ Our Lord, Come!


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May 23, 2020

Jn 16: 23b-28

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. 

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

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.

Come to God as you are

As I write this reflection, Mother’s Day has just passed. While there’s much to appreciate about my mom, I believe that what she and my late dad did best as my sister and I grew up was to delight in their children. They reveled in us being us—gifted and flawed—and we knew it. 

At first glance, the essence of today’s Gospel seems to be contained in the first sentence; ask God, in Jesus’ name, for whatever you need, and you will receive it. While the clarity and generosity of this truth offer comfort, I am drawn instead to the second half of Jesus’ declaration. Go to God directly, as you are, he clarifies. God our Creator, the one Jesus calls Father, already loves us…already knows us…already delights in us.

What do I need from God today? What prevents me from going to God and asking for what I need?   

Katie Davis-Crowder, MDiv (Loyola University Chicago), works as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep and volunteers with the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Behold God beholding you…and smiling.

—Anthony De Mello, SJ


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May 22, 2020

Jn 16: 20-23

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Grief and pain becoming joy

Jesus mentions the pain and forgetfulness of childbirth in today’s Gospel reading.  I have witnessed my wife give birth twice, and I must confess I am glad I didn’t go through it.  I’m grateful that my wife and other mothers tell me they don’t remember the pain. 

While many of us have never given birth, we can relate to many struggles in our lives that are painful to endure, but bring new life and joy once they pass.  Overcoming an illness, finding a new job, or a tough work project can seem impossible to accomplish at times.  Yet, once we are finally able to turn the corner, we realize the joy of being healthy again, finding a better job, or success of completing a challenging project.

During this month of May, what grace do we need to ask of our Mother Mary to help us through our current “labor pains?” 

Tom Cattapan is the Associate Director of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL and a graduate of Marquette University

Prayer

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer


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