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