Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Widening Circle of Concern

Pope Francis’ concern for vulnerable people is well known. Last summer he merged four councils concerned for social justice and human wellbeing into one Vatican department. The department also will help local churches (dioceses) “offer appropriate material and spiritual assistance” to vulnerable people.
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Washers and dryers in the new ‘Pope Francis Laundry,’ established for the homeless in Rome. (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Education, Retreat, Transformation

Tweeted by U.S. Catholic:
“My Jesuit education transformed my life and…I truly believe I have been prepared to lead an extraordinary life with the education that can only be offered at a Jesuit school.”
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Wiki-image by Amerique CC BY 3.0

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday word: Same Day

Orthodox and Catholics celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on the same day this year. John Chrysostom—saint for both—proclaimed a homily that echoes to this day. Its invitation is timeless.
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Wiki-image © Guillaume Piolle CC BY 3.0

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday word, 14 Apr 17

Good Friday (14 Apr 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Holy Week Retreat, Guelph, ON
“Lightening Marks”

The Passion According to John makes its point: Jesus’ cross wasn’t only an instrument of his shameful torture and death; his cross was the throne of our King’s glory. The gospel’s conviction is no solution: the notions, shame and glory, collide in our minds; our hearts tremble as we try to hold together dying by public asphyxiation and undying presence with God.

Yet Christians remind one another that Jesus’ dying into God’s undying presence calls us not to ignore any suffering and death and to look through human anguish to life. So this vision can be our ever-new vision, Jesus’ cross is our lens. Can we better appreciate Jesus’ cross? venerate it? carry it? A contemporary writer offered a useful image.

Annie Dillard wrote: American “Indians…used to carve long grooves along the wooden shafts of their arrows. They called the grooves ‘lightning marks,’ because they resembled the curved fissures lightning slices down the trunks of trees. The function of lightning marks is this: if the arrow fails to kill the game, blood from a deep wound will channel along the lightning mark, streak down the arrow shaft, and splatter to the ground, laying a trail dripped on broadleaves, on stones, that the barefoot and trembling archer can follow into whatever deep or rare wilderness it leads.”1

Her image helps me see with Jesus. We see lightning marks of other kinds surround us. Lives scarred by suffering and death scar us and cut us deeply. Blood is poured out in numerous places near and far. The cries of the poor and oppressed, and our affirmation of them in deed as well as prayer, call beyond anguish and despair.

Calls beyond ourselves received clear voice from the cross and its mystery. Can we not say the cross of Jesus is the lightning mark of God? Might this be what you and I seek? Holding the cross, bearing our crosses we see ourselves anew: we realize each of us is “the barefoot and trembling archer,” who follows the trail through life’s wilderness to find the very heart of God. Jesus’ cross graces us with his divine spirit and pioneering love. His pioneering love dots the trails of our lives; it trains us and forms us as God’s scouts. 

Trained scouts see what others overlook. God’s scouts note each dot, each drop of blood calls, ‘God loves forever.’ By God’s forever-love God reaches into and beyond the grave. God reaches into and beyond each valley of death that veils from sight the attitude of Christ.2 God reaches into and beyond every setback that prevents us from putting on the attitude of Christ. God’s forever-love alive in us frees us to be “forgetful of self in…generous and ready service of all the abandoned.”3 

Jesus’ attitude frees us to forget self more consistently. His attitude makes no human sense when we forget he nurtured intimate relationship with God: Jesus lived faithful to God’s heart. Jesus invites and graces us to do likewise. Jesus freely continues giving his attitude to all who desire to receive it.

Ask Jesus to help you stay near him and his cross. As you hold it ask Jesus to help you see the cross as the “lightening mark” of God’s pioneering love. For God’s pioneering love Jesus daily chooses us as his trained scouts for the life of our world.

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  1. “Heaven and Earth in Jest,” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Olive Editions (HarperCollins), 2016 (1974), pp. 14-15.
  2. Philippians 2.5: the Greek word often translated as mind connotes feeling and emotion in addition to intellectual activity; therefore attitude translates the Greek word well.
  3. Society of Jesus, General Congregation 32, Decree 12.4 (Poverty), [260]
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Three Cues for Three Days

Christians stand at the threshold of their holiest days: the Sacred Triduum. At Thinking Faith Sr. Anouska Robinson-Biggin offered an Ignatian way to enter the Three Days. She suggested three verbs can guide the way.
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Wiki-image by Loïc LLH CC BY-SA 3.0

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

First Country To Ban Mining

America: The Jesuit Review reported that Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, leader of the Archdiocese of San Salvador and president of El Salvador’s Episcopal Conference, requested a legal ban to mining of “gold and other metals.” A legal ban was the only recourse because of the nation’s lax mining laws. The Archbishop proceeded
in complete agreement with [Pope Francis’] encyclical ‘Laudato Si’,’ and together with the poorest communities directly threatened by mining…. In our small, densely populated country, [mining] would contaminate the waters…and cause irreparable damage to the environment, to the fauna and flora and, mostly gravely, to people’s lives and health.
El Salvador’s legislative assembly enacted the ban on 29 March.
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Sunday, April 02, 2017

Sunday word, 02 Apr 17

Lenten Sunday5 A (02 Apr 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Progression
The Fourth Gospel presents Jesus working signs. They are seven miraculous moments: water made wine; curing a nobleman’s son; healing a paralyzed man; feeding 5000; walking on water; opening the eyes of one born blind; raising Lazarus from the dead. Lenten gospels proclaim four of them.1 We heard Jesus’ final sign before he became what we may call the eighth sign: dying on the cross and rising from the tomb.

Jesus performed his first sign at the wedding at Cana with a natural element for human pleasure. He fed thousands with bread and fish after they had listened to him all day in a lonely place. Immediately after that he walked on water to his disciples; to them he said for the first time, I am: he identified himself with the name God’s had told to Moses.2 His other signs involved healing people from infirmities and death.

Jesus revealed himself with these signs. They progressed from human pleasure to human healing. Raising Lazarus from the dead was the ultimate human healing. We name it resuscitation, another chance to live. Like Lazarus none of us will escape human death. As Jesus’ signs progressed in their healing power, so did the envy3 of the religious authorities toward Jesus.

Envy progresses, too: from jealous scrutiny, to anger, to hatred, to desire to kill whom one envies. The desire to kill, we know, people act out too often. The Fourth Gospel indicated from its start that the authorities of his people refused to know Jesus for who he was and rejected him.4 As Jesus worked one sign after another, the hostility of his opponents progressed: first they picked up stones to throw at Jesus; after raising Lazarus they schemed together to put Jesus to death.5 

This progress of the Fourth Gospel presents us with one of Lent’s several examinations of conscience: in what ways do I refuse Jesus? We have our ways. Some may isolate Jesus so he does not involve every choice, every action. Others may want proof Jesus lives now rather than a relationship with Jesus. Even we who are in relationship with Jesus often prefer to escape his desire to heal and revivify our entire selves. Jesus desires for us what he desired for his first disciples: that we might believe.

In the NT to believe has its progression: from acknowledging; to having mental persuasion; to entrusting oneself, placing oneself in the power of another. This final progression is Christian belief; it is relationship, giving ourselves to another. To commit ourselves to another causes us to hesitate. We fear losing our selves and losing our freedom. To be in relationship with Jesus lets us enjoy true freedom. His gift of true freedom releases us to be ourselves; to live in new ways. Lent seeks to help us progress in our relationships with Jesus; to discover our true selves; and to live what we have discovered?

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Lazarus to present you to Jesus.
  • Speak with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for us; thank Jesus for enlivening us with his Holy Spirit.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to move through what keeps any of us from entrusting ourselves to him and his gracious care.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, lead us not into temptation on our lips, are not restricted to wrong actions. They beg the grace to entrust ourselves more and more to the One who saved us by his dying and rising and frees us to be our true selves.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
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  1. Fourth Week: Sunday, opening the eyes of one born blind; Monday, curing of the nobleman’s son; Tuesday, healing the paralyzed man; Fifth Week: Sunday, raising Lazarus from the dead.
  2. Exodus 3.14. Jesus first used the title in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well.
  3. Matthew, Mark and Luke (of a disciple) used the word.
  4. John 1.10-11.
  5. John 8.59 (of which his disciples were aware); 11.53.
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Saturday, April 01, 2017

More Pipeline Woes

Estimates from the December 2016 Belle Fourche Pipeline spill were low. The current count is three times larger! “The December spill took place less than 200 miles away from the main camp where most of these ‘water protecters were based at the time.” Read the CSM estimates-story.
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Wiki-image PD-US 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday word, 26 Mar 17

Lenten Sunday4 A (26 Mar 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Refashioned Spirit-Shaped
The first character of Lent is this: “it recalls baptism or prepares for it.” These past 50 years we have recovered Lent’s primary character: a catechumenate is the norm in parishes; and parishioners celebrate its various liturgies with the Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults and of Children. Happy is our recovery of Lent’s primary character; in my early youth my elders and I knew only its second character, its “penitential spirit.”1

Penance reminds us that human qualities and worldly realities are not goals of Christian living: Jesus is. No penance is an end in itself; it seeks to help us stay on course to Jesus and deepen our friendly union with him. How we and Jesus are friends differs from one of us to the next. It may begin as it did with the man blind from birth. Jesus may enlighten us later in our lives, or repeatedly. The more Jesus enlightens us, clears our inward sight and frees our hearts, the more we share with Jesus—we have his attitude.2

The gospel of Jesus and the man blind from birth drips with irony: it is both sad and humorous. Sad because of the conflict in the synagogue and the fear it induced in the man’s parents and others. Sad-humorous because the leaders wanted proof and refused “to see” a man restored to sight. This gospel offers much to ponder. I call attention to what the man whose sight Jesus restored possessed: Jesus’ attitude. When he was interrogated the man used the same language Jesus spoke, soon to him, before to the woman of Samaria3 and later at his arrest and trial4: I am.

In John’s Gospel Jesus said that phrase often. People have long noted it echoes God’s name God gave Moses: tell the Israelites [enslaved in Egypt] that I AM sent me to you.5 God was clearly interested in the suffering. Jesus showed that God’s concern continues.

 In today’s gospel the man who had been blind braved his interrogators with Jesus’ language, I am (the man). He said that before he met Jesus with his seeing eyes. Noticing that triggered this new insight: healed by Jesus causes us to be like Jesus. Healed by Jesus does not cause us to mouth Jesus’ words in an empty fashion. Baptism into Jesus—our healing from world-oriented living to spirit-led godly living—causes us to act like Jesus, our healing saviour: with greater courage, feeling and generosity for and with others.

We who have been baptized recall our baptism. We don’t recall a date; we recall our daily healing by dying and rising with Christ Jesus. Baptism-healing is new each day because Jesus fortifies it daily with his eucharist. Those preparing for baptism cause us to remember, too. Their anticipation and our prayer for them deepens Jesus’ spirit-life in us so we resemble him more and more.  

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the man blind from birth to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for us; thank him for baptizing us with his Spirit to be like him.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live our baptisms for and with others with greater courage, feeling and generosity.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to grow more like him, alive with his healing Spirit.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
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  1. Constitution on the Liturgy, 109 of the Second Vatican Council.
  2. Philippians 2.5; 1Corinthians 2.16.
  3. John 4.26, last Sunday’s gospel; This first use is followed by: 6.35, 41, 48, 51; 8.12, 24, 28, 42, 58; 10.7, 9, 11, 14; 11.25; 12.32; 13.19; 14.2, 6; 15.1, 5; 17.24; 18.5-6, 8.
  4. Arrest, 18.5-6, 8; trial, Mark 14.62; Luke 22.70.
  5. Exodus 3.14.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

No Longer a Parlor Paper Pastime

The Japanese art of paper folding, origami, has entered the manufacturing world. From that world it is bound for outer space. CSM Staff member, Charlie Wood, describes the promises origami offers and the stubborn obstacle it faces: “‘child’s toy thing’…bias.” 
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Wiki-image by Anpamore of origami camera CC BY-SA 3.0

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Midpoint

Christians have observed half the season of Lent. Frustration in one’s observance is not unusual. A contributor to franciscanmedia considered “Six Lenten Pitfalls. She offered relief with an “action plan” for each.
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Wiki-image by Ram-Man of Lenten rose CC BY-SA 2.5

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday word, 19Mar17

Lenten Sunday3 A (19 Mar 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Les Miserables retreat, Guelph, ON
More Awake to God’s Dream
Twentieth-Century social critic Michel Focault thought this: “Despair and hopelessness are one thing, suspicion is another. And if you are suspicious, it is because, of course, you have a certain hope.”1 His thought got me thinking.

Despair and hopelessness color Les Misérables from its beginning. The human hope of revolutionaries fuelled their conviction to act. Christian hope—not human hope but a divine gift to humans—functions as counterpoint to human hope.

What of you and me? Suspicious is not how I’m here. I doubt any of you is. Instead of suspicion one or more of you may have come curious; others seeking; still others restless: it may register as longing for freedom or integration or healing or another life-giving desire. Jesus awakened in the Samaritan woman her desires.

She found remarkable that a Jewish man would want to drink water she drew. If she were suspicious it melted into interest: she engaged Jesus about her religious heritage and his; she longed for freedom: Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

She also desired something very human: to be known. Marriage had not meet that desire. We don’t know the length of her marriages, if they were loving or dangerous. None of that matters; it didn’t matter to Jesus. It did matter to him that the Samaritan woman had no spouse in her life to share her desires. It mattered to her that Jesus seemed to know her more intimately as their conversing progressed. She left her [precious] water jar and returned to town. She told the people there, Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could this man be the Messiah?

The Samaritan woman is a model for us: a person of hope, the hope that is a gift to us. St. Paul reminded that our Christian hope is not human hope because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. This personal self-giving of God Paul had experienced. It shaped his life and his proclamation of the gospel. Nothing hindered him from living his experience of risen Messiah Jesus. He wrote at the beginning of this Letter to the Romans, I am not ashamed of the gospel.2 He used the same word about hope. Bibles usually translate it as we heard: disappoint. Not shamed is closer to Paul’s experience and the encouragement he offered: our hope does not shame because of what is most real, the love of God…poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…given to us. Christian hope is power for living, power to stay alive. Fantine sang it with the word dream.

Daniel’s insights and your prayer and conversation have awakened much within you. I offer this: Is Jesus becoming your dream? Are you able to live unashamed of Jesus, and especially his shameful death, because you feel his closer friend? This liturgy’s word invites us to let our Christian hope empower each of us to embody God’s dream for us and all creation. Our hope is not ashamed of risen Jesus. Our hope is risen Jesus! He enlivens us to join him and live more humane and godly lives—lives drawing others to him.


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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  1. Quoted here.
  2. Romans 1.16.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday word, 15 Mar 17

Lenten Wednesday2 (15Mar2017)
 Homily of Rev. Paul Panaretos, S. J., 5-day directed retreat, Guelph, ON
Mrs. Zebedee—By One Who Knew Her Well

It was never easy to read her face and know her mind. She was an energetic girl, and she caught onto things quickly. But satisfaction—and things related to it: tranquility, relief, fulfillment—never seemed to register on her bright face. Don’t get me wrong: she wasn’t a problem child. Her family was proud of her, and she was popular with other kids in the neighbourhood and excelled at her lessons. She was her own from the start.

As a young woman she excelled at her work. When she married Zebedee, she demonstrated she was strong and self-assured. Her family didn’t want her to marry the fisherman; they thought he wasn’t good enough for her. Never mind that he owned his boat and had shares in a few others. Never mind that fishermen the sea ’round so respected him and his insight and wisdom that most would have stepped out of his boat—and theirs!—to walk on water if he told them. Never mind that she would say, “We have to eat! I’m honoured to be married to a man who provides for everyone.” 

She was self-assured in their marriage, too. Don’t get me wrong: she wasn’t spoiled. After she introduced Zebedee to them, her parents stood their ground and never withheld their feelings. When their daughter became Mrs. Zebedee, they just as strongly stood by her and their new son.

As the Zebedees prospered, so did many. Mr. Z was generous: people never realized that much of their money for his fish maintained their synagogue. Mrs. Z told them. Don’t get me wrong: she wasn’t a gossip. She was very hospitable. During her hospitality once, she mentioned it. Mr. Z wished she hadn’t, and he never scolded her. Even in the face of their foibles, they were content—until their boys came along. Remember how she was never satisfied as a child? It all came back—it really had never gone; with the boys it flared.

She wanted the best for her sons—who doesn’t? Everyone admired her for that. Unknown to everyone, motherhood didn’t fulfill her. Don’t get me wrong: she was a good mom; a good mom who was driven. Others never noticed it for what it was. They thought she was self-assured, self-possessed: she always knew what she was asking. Until the day she realized she didn’t. 

Initially, she felt she had humiliated herself and her sons. They deserved particular thrones. But as she neared home, she felt her driven-burden vaporize. People noticed ever after her lovely face shone a more radiant beauty.

At home she told her husband each detail. Listening, he gazed at her as he did the day he first met her. With a wry smile she concluded, “Any rabbi understands martyrdom, but only the martyr experiences the fire.”* Mr. Zebedee nodded, smiled and embraced her, saying, “My wife and mother of our sons, you’re right as usual.

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*Robertson Davies, The Manticore (New York: Viking Press, 1976), p. 101: “Any theologian understands martyrdom, but only the martyr experiences the fire.”
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Friday, March 10, 2017

Gospels Preview

Tradition used John’s Gospel during much of Lent and Easter. The Roman Catholic lectionary honours the tradition in its 3-year cycle of Sunday readings. Jesuit “Peter Edmonds SJ explains how hearers of this [year’s] series of readings follow Jesus from the desert to the tomb.”
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