Monday, August 29, 2011


The difference between major and minor surgery, the quip suggests: "major surgery is any surgery done on me."

This tweet from The Atlantic suggests that measure can be overdone. Yet, Hurricane Irene damage and loss of life are severe. Yes, coverage of it did trump serious news from elsehwere.

On the other hand, as Hurricane Katrina reached U.S. Gulf Shores, the outpouring of sympathy from Sri Lankans to a U.S. tourist, visiting their island-nation ravaged by a tsunami not a full year previous, was profuse, genuine and unexpected.

It is difficult to know how others truly see us. All the more reason to be aware of the images the U.S. and U.S. citizens project to the world.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday word, 28 August 2011

22d Sunday of the Year A (28Aug2011)

Jer 20. 7-9; Ps 63; Rm 12. 1-2; Mt 16. 21-27

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Feeling With Jesus

Summer of 594 of the pre-Christian calendar the Judaeans were in their Babylonian exile. In the preceding Winter, as that year began, a coup against the Babylonian king failed. However, it caused the Jews and others under Babylonian rule to hope for and support another one. The exiled King Zedekiah summoned ambassadors of surrounding lands to form a coalition to oust the Babylonian king. We have seen leaders in our time dupe more than us to call such a violent ousting a “regime change.” Often its a deceptive euphemism.

A self-styled prophet1 gave a boost to Zedekiah by saying the exile would be over in two years. The words of the true prophet, Jeremiah, were not welcome because Jeremiah had announced before his words we just heard that things would get worse before they got better. Jeremiah may have once enjoyed his life, but his mission and the exile caused him great pain:

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; The word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day.

Nevertheless, Jeremiah kept faith: hard for us to do at times, too. Jeremiah kept faith in God’s ancient promise. In their exile, Jeremiah and faithful people with prophetic hearts kept alive and clung to God’s ancient promise:

...even while [my people] are in their enemies’ land, I will not reject or spurn them, lest, by wiping them out, I make void my covenant with them; for I, the Lord, am their God. I will remember them because of the covenant I made with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt under the very eyes of the Gentiles, that I, the LORD, might be their God.”2

The bible tells the story of the regime of God’s covenant. It also recounts that Israel and Judah did not keep faith over the centuries with God’s covenant, which they had entered. When it suited them or when it seemed in their interests or practical or politic they ignored the covenant, forsaking its regime, its pattern of God’s fidelity to them, for regimes of this leader or that way of living.

Jesus, like Jeremiah, was compelled to speak a word that filled him with dread as much as it filled Peter and others to hear it: he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

Is it because I know those final words, that Jesus was raised from death, that I do not fill with sympathy for Jesus and do not shudder with him and for him when I hear him speak of his suffering, his exile from honor as well as from human life? Peter’s horror, when Jesus warned of his passion and death, reminds us that it’s easier to accept the messiahship of Jesus when it involves glory and eternal life than when it includes denial, renunciation and suffering.

Yet, Peter was an ardent believer even before his faith was fully formed. Denial, renunciation and suffering formed the faith that he and the apostles handed on to us. The pattern of Jesus’ life, including both suffering and glory, is the regime we Catholics try to adopt as we serve, evangelize and worship with our lives.

If we set out to change anything, it isn’t the pattern of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We seek to refashion, renew and transform our lives in order to pattern them on both Jesus’ alertness to the word of God active in him and Jesus’ willingness to embody it, speak it and live it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week,

  • pause and remember the Trinity has created you in the divine image and to become divine because Jesus became human with us.
  • Ask Peter to present you to Jesus.
  • Consider one way Jesus’ mission attracts you and one way it challenges or even frightens you, and speak to Jesus about each.
  • Praise Jesus for choosing towork in the power of his Spirit through you.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to help us pattern our lives on his life in its entirety to save our lives and the lives of others.


  1. Hananiah was his name, and Jeremiah 28. 11-15 records their exchange about the exile’s end: within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of all the nations (verse 11).
  2. Leviticus 26.44-45
Wiki-image of a stained glass window depicting Jeremiah, and a 14th C. icon depicting Jesus carrying his cross are in the public domain.

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Million More

The Jesuit Relief Services reaches out to many people affected by the draught and its effects in Somalia. It needs help.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Look Into Egyptian Slums

One fact given no sustained coverage after the 25 January 2011 revolution in Egypt is that the "vast majority of the victims...came from underprivileged backgrounds." Amnesty International reports that the "new authorities have the opportunity to address one of the key demands of protesters: to prioritize the needs of millions living in slums."

The AI video visited one slum on land owned by the army, and its occupants have experienced forced evictions--they are a fraction of the 12 million Egyptians who live each day in similar conditions.

Fallen Angel

From the roof of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., after the East Cost earthquake. The Washington Post posted more photos.

[Source: CSM photos of the day, 24 August 2011]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Egyptian in Somalia

"I should be where I’m needed.” Those are the words of Egyptian Dr. Omar Saleh, who has been serving in Somalia since 2007. He continued:
“And this is where I’m needed. I’m a trauma surgeon. This is a conflict. Trauma is everywhere. I must be there,” he told the UN News Centre by telephone.
Dr. Saleh is convinced although "he never imagined he would be" doing what he is doing. After the two-minute video, read the UN News Centre post to celebrate World Humanitarian Day last Friday and learn more about Dr. Saleh.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Than Registered

One World Youth Day [WYD] pattern appears set: more pilgrims flock to the site of a WYD than the number of those who officially register. The number increases when other-than-youth-participants are counted. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office,
reported the number of pilgrims as between 1 million and 1.5 million. [Yago de la Cierva, the director of WYD organization.] added, however, that WYD success isn't measured in the number of participants. He also clarified that the number registered is around 430,000, with another 30,000 volunteers and hundreds of bishops. [Source:, 19 Aug 2011.]
Using the list of registered young pilgrims the official WYD 2011 website posted an interactive map of pilgrims by countries and their respective numbers. No mistake:
WYD is a world event.
Wiki-image by Raúl Hernández González of official logo is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Gerneric license.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun for the Eyes--and Brain

Interactive art is engaging, even on film. ENESS is one creator of it. ENESS describes itself on its About Page: "Established in 1997, ENESS is an award winning art & design practice, based in Melbourne Australia. We transform ordinary physical environments into magical, interactive experiences."

Jason Marshall retweeted this recent, ENESS project of a "stopcycle" sculputre. It is reminiscent of the famous Möbius strip.

Enjoying the video may lead to seeing how it was made.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday word, 21 August 2011

21st Sunday of the Year A (21 Aug 2011)

Is 22. 19-23; Ps 138; Rm 11. 33-36; Mt 16. 13-20

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Scissors, Paper, Rock

That names a game of chance between two people, which I learned as a child. Many of us know it. At the count of three players drop their forearms level with the floor and make one of three configurations with their hands: two fingers out and apart is scissors; palm open facing the floor is paper; and hand made into a fist is rock.

Scissors cuts paper, and when players choose those two configurations, the scissors-player wins the round. Rock breaks scissors and when players choose those two configurations, the rock-player wins the round. Paper covers rock, and when players choose those two configu-rations, the paper-player wins the round.

I was mystified as a child that paper beat rock. My first impression was that rock’s solidity would smash flimsy paper. I didn’t think according to the game’s logic. Paper covers rock, hiding it, thereby winning, despite rock’s hefty, solid character.

The logic of that rule can help us appreciate our Christian faith, which this weekend’s scriptures highlight prominently. Giving voice to God’s desire for God’s people, Isaiah used the image of a peg: I will fix [my servant] like a peg in a sure spot. Faith is both a surety and a security. Isaiah also used the image of a key: I will place the key of the House of David on [my servant’s] shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open, words Jesus made his. Faith is a key for our lives, opening onto true meaning and giving our lives true purpose.

Faith is no inanimate object, though, like peg, key, scissors, paper or rock. Jesus’ question to his disciples was no quiz. Who do you say that I am? showed Jesus’ desire for his disciples in each age to know him more intimately: to know and accept him for who Jesus is. Faith is alive; it is relationship, our relationship with Jesus.

Peter’s response to Jesus, that he was God’s Son and Messiah-Savior of the world, personified what we call apostolic faith. Our Christian faith is a gift, handed to us and every generation by the witness of the apostles. Our Christian faith is also divine gift, God’s continuous self-revelation.

Our faith does not paper over events to blot them out or hide painful events, which cut the fabric of our lives. Faith is relationship, our bond with apostles, the Trinity and one another. As relationship, faith keeps us connected with God in Jesus by their Spirit despite events that would tear us from them, from each other or from ourselves.

The relationship, which faith is, is not chance. It is God’s gift, which involves our choice. Faith transforms mastery over the palace of God’s creation entrusted to us into care. Faith trans-forms authority into Christian service so each person and our world may grow more alive.

Our choices to cultivate and deepen our faith have effects not only of a personal kind; our faith and how we live it transform people and our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Pause in the presence of the Trinity to feel their creative love for you and to rest secure in it.
  • Ask Peterso much like us in our limitations as well as our desire to know Jesusto present you to Jesus, so you may converse with Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for all Jesus has done and is doing in your life. Speak to Jesus your desire to know him better, and
  • ask him for the grace to help you know him better.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to stay in relationship with his Father and to live our faith by lives of care, genuine service and to rest secure in our ever deepening felt- knowledge of Jesus, our Messiah-Savior.
Wiki image by Kevin Walles of a window depicting Peter professing faith in Jesus is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Brightening the Dismal Science

Inequality in incomes in the United States surprises, and saddens many people. Paul Salmon did one of his usually engaging, and thought provoking, reports on the PBS NewsHour earlier this week and put it into perspective.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Building on Strength

The New York Transit Museum is doing what its counterparts in Great Britain have already been doing, reports the New York Times. The museum seeks to assist children with autism spectrum disorders to endure less anxiety and to connect with others.

Five-year-old Ravi leads Christine Haughney's story. Ravi
can tell you how to get anywhere in New York City by transit — like the beach, on the 6 train.

“The 6 goes elevated from Whitlock Avenue to Pelham Bay Park,” he explains. “And at Pelham Bay Park, you can transfer for a Bx29 or a Bx12 — the Bx12 to Orchard Beach.”

Ravi has drafted elaborate proposals for expanded bus service in Brooklyn, and has memorized the exact date that the W train stopped running in 2010.

Her article includes this promise from one researcher.

Simon Baron Cohen, who runs the autism research center at Cambridge University, found that when young children with autism spent 15 minutes a day watching animated videos of vehicles with human faces on them, their ability to recognize emotions improved after one month.
Each person has strengths. Working with them and building on them enlarges their freedom and the freedom of others. Read the entire 13 August 2011 article.


Wiki-image of LEGO train Thomas the Tank Engine is in the public domain.

When the Church Does Not Invest in Youth. . .

. . .or fails youth in other ways, the church is rightly criticized.

When the Church seeks to address directly youth of the world gathered in a single place and allow them to celebrate in various ways, it is criticized for spending too much money. One young volunteer reacted at a demonstration about that in Madrid on the second day of World Youth Day. [Source: Christian Science Monitor photos of the day

Viewing only the first several minutes of the popes arrival at Madrid's Puerta de Alcalá demonstrates the size of the crowds of at this huge undertaking, which puts its cost in perspective.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Prayer Deepens Relationship

A four-minute teaching on Ignatian contemplative prayer. Fr. John Cihak seeks to help people have "an intimate relationship with God." [Source:]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taxes and Common Good

Warren Buffet made his remarks on the wealthy and taxation in the U.S. A Franciscan Brother recently offered his reflection, generously quoting from Mr. Buffet's NYT op-ed. For example, Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., notes:
One thing that is often overlooked in discussions about tax rates and personal wealth is who the mouthpieces are for a given position. Disturbingly, the ground swell of support for freezing, if not lowering, taxes in this country come from self-monikered “tea partiers,” most of whom are working and middle-class Americans. One doesn’t find the New York Park-Avenue super-wealthy dressed up in eighteenth-century colonial attire on the National Mall protesting anything. Why? Because, truthfully, as Buffett bravely notes with honesty in his piece, whether his tax rate was 10% or 50% he would still make millions and billions of dollars. The super wealthy have no need to be concerned.
Shortly the author's asks: ". . .where does one draw the line between necessity and gratuity, between security and selfishness, between honesty and greed?" Read Brother Horan's entire reflection.
Wiki-image of a dollar sign is in the public domain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pictures of Ramadan Worldwide

"Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, began earlier this month with the sighting of the new moon."

So begins a photo-essay in the The Atlantic. After a few more sentences about the annual fast, the essay unfurls 42 photos.

Wiki-image of a photo by Thomas Bresson of a crescent moon is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Monday, August 15, 2011

For Murders Committed in 1989

News released last week: "Nine El Salvador Ex-soldiers Surrender over Jesuit Killings." [Source: National Jesuit eNews, 15 August 2011]

Twitter Music

Shortly after To Find Fruit posted that meteors can be heard, a recent BBC podcast carried an early-August story. After a brief description of Twitter in use, the correspondent said, "Strip away all the text, voices, and this is the sound of Twitter. . ."

Created to earn a university degree, what might the practical applications of "Twynthesis" be?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday word, 14 August 2011

20th Sunday of the Year A (14Augl2008)

Is 56. 1, 6-7; Ps 67; Rm 11. 13-15, 29-32; Mt 15. 21-28

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

All People, One At a Time

This gospel episode leads many to dismay, not just scratch their heads at Jesus’ behavior. Jesus and the Canaanite woman met in what it is Lebanon today: Tyre is 20 miles south of Sidon and only 12 miles north of the Israel-Lebanon border. While today’s borders situate the scene for us, the region of Tyre and Sidon in Jesus’ time lay beyond the land of the Israelites. King Solomon had given the area to King Hiram after he supplied cedar and cypress timber and gold for the temple Solomon built.1 By Jesus’ day lands long given away to people with alien religious practices led those of Israel to avoid or to associate reluctantly with Canaanites.

Avoidance and reluctance deepened during the exiles to foreign lands. The entire series of exiles of different portions of God’s people lasted 195 years. Losing their freedom again and tasting long, bitter exiles from their land easily made the Chosen People suspicious of and reluctant to associate with people with other gods and religious practices. Yet God’s desire was different and grand. At the end of one exile Isaiah announced it: not only did God desire God’s people again to be close to God, God desired to be close to all people: foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord...all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant…will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Their prayerful hope for that to happen was built into their worship: May the peoples praise you, O God!2 Yet the Chosen People forgot they had a part to play with God to make that happen. Their part—their vocation3—paved the way for this universal salvation, and it had priority: Observe what is right, do what is just. God’s people had a role in God’s salvation: observing what is right and doing God’s justice prepared for God’s desire: my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.

So astonishing was this to the Chosen People that we heard the disciples of Jesus tried to dismiss a non-Jewish woman from Jesus with her plea for help and healing. Even Jesus shared his disciples’ instinct by his curious phrase, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” What was the Son of God, who desires all be saved, thinking? The better question is, What was Jesus feeling? Why ask that? Because Jesus was fully human as well as divine.

Jesus knew rejection well. People in his home town of Nazareth had rejected him.4 Before he met the Canaanite woman, Jesus defended his disciples against Pharisees and scribes…from Jerusalem, who accused them of break[ing] the tradition of the elders.5 Their accusation of his disciples was another slap at Jesus and the prophetic authority he claimed. They were offended by Jesus reply to them.6 Jesus did not call the Pharisees and scribes blind guides7 without strong feeling and personal need.

No wonder Jesus “got out of town!” He needed a respite from being rejected and to think of new ways to win his people—the lost sheep of the house of Israel—to the desires of God, who had sent him. They were uppermost on his mind when a foreign woman threatened his respite. Yet, as the Canaanite woman was in need and being rejected, Jesus was in need and knew rejection well. His human instinct inherited from his people gave way to God’s priority when Jesus saw the woman as one of those foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. Only God’s healing power could satisfy her great faith, and Jesus could not betray himself, who embodied that faith and healing. Through one Canaanite woman Jesus made the divine desire to save all people more real and clearer for all to see.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week:

  • Pause in the love the Trinity has for you: creating you is the Trinity’s priority.
  • Ask the courageous Canaanite woman to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus by name and implore Jesus for what you need.
  • Ask Jesus to make your heart more generous so you can engage and live your faith with greater enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is Jesus’ words given us to grow in courage and wisdom and to make Christian love our priority for the sake of all people and our world.


  1. 1 Kings 9.11.
  2. As it is ours: we echoed it with Psalm 67 as our Response to the First Reading; also that prayerful hope is in the Liturgy of the Hours, most recently yesterday, Saturday, Week III, Morning Prayer, with Psalm 117 and the prayer after it.
  3. Beginning with one person, Abraham (Genesis 12.1-3), to an entire people (Exodus 19.4-6). Its priestly role was to live in a way that brought others closer to God.
  4. Matthew 13.54-58.
  5. Matthew 15.1-2.
  6. Matthew 15.12.
  7. Matthew 15.14.
Wiki-image by Pete unseth of an Isaiah scroll is used according to the Creative Commons 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license. Wiki-image of Jesus and the Canaanite woman from a book of hours is in the public domain.