Monday, July 30, 2012

Setting Precedent

Iftar is the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast. The meal is eaten after sunset. In Warren, Michigan, the St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church hosted an iftar for “Muslim and Christian clergyman and organized by the church in the spirit of Lebanese Patriarch Peter Bechara Rai’s recent visit and message of peace and collaboration among the two religious communities.” The parish may have set a precedent in Metro-Detroit.
Wiki-image by Setareha of inscription for Ramadan used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday word, 29 Jul 2012

Received To Pulse With Jesus
17th Sunday of the Year B (29Jul 2012) 
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
How many gospels does the New Testament contain? Yes, four. And, you know their names are. . . . Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
As you know, Mark’s gospel, from which we hear on Sundays this year, is the shortest of the four. You also recall the Second Vatican Council desired us Catholics to hear more scripture during Sunday Masses and did so by recalling tradition and exercising creativity. The gospel of John was and continues to be the gospel of Lent and Easter. In tandem with Tradition the Council revised the lectionary so we could hear more scripture. It did by devoting a year of continuous reading at mass of Matthew, Mark and Luke. So what gives today? Why in this year of Mark is today’s gospel reading from John? The short answer is because Mark’s is the shortest gospel.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke each can cover a liturgical year assisted by John’s gospel during the Lenten and Easter seasons. Because Mark’s gospel is shorter, we would finish it over a month before Advent would begin a new liturgical year—even with John’s gospel used during Lent and Easter! To remedy a too early ending of the gospel during each Year of Mark the Second Vatican Council revised the lectionary so that we hear the sixth chapter of John’s gospel for five Sundays. That explains the shift to John. What ought we look for in the coming weeks?
Through the modern era many have spilled much ink about John’s gospel and about its sixth chapter in particular. Pioneering and not-able scholars put forward opposing views, at time inferring things the text does not support.
One of my teachers regularly reminded his students, “Stick close to the text.” By reading what’s there instead of getting carried away with strange ideas, one avoids inferring what the text cannot or does not mean. That teacher taught my other teacher, who believes we profit most by the process of reading any scripture, which he overemphasized with a memorable statement: “When I am invited to preach on a scripture text, I have an urge to lock myself in a hotel room for a weekend and read the entire bible.” Overemphasis, yes, but Luke made his point: God’s revelation clothed in human language is one, grand chronicle of God entering human history.
Reading what’s there, as we begin our weeks with Jesus identifying himself as the Bread of Life, I take my cue from a word in the first reading from Second Kings: firstfruits; and from its psalm, The hand of the Lord feeds us.
The Creator, Blessed be God, provides all our needs by giving us the natural world. God feeds us through the earth. With Firstfruits, the earliest ripe portion of the crop or newborn livestock, people honored God. When money replaced bartering crops or animals for daily goods, people gave first a portion of their income to charity and to their places of worship: hence, tithing and others forms of stewardship we know.
Our triune God also gives in another, uniquely relational way. God not only became human for us. Our God honored us, giving us Jesus as divine firstfruits, the firstborn, only Son of God. And more: Jesus gives us himself, his body and his blood, to nourish us on our faith journeys, our pilgrim way on earth.1 Jesus feeds us with bounty to spare, though his body and blood as we consume them, a bit of bread and a sip of wine, do not satisfy our human appetites.

We receive the Lord Jesus’ whole being each time we ingest a consecrated morsel of bread  and a sip of consecrated wine. Noticing Jesus’ fondness for fully entering our human ways focuses us on eating and drinking. When we ingest any food we digest it: our bodies absorb food’s nutrients so they merge with us: fueling, shaping, strengthening and fortify-ing us until our next meal. Jesus gives us himself so that his Real Presence nourishes us really to be his presence in our world.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause, recall and relish your communion in with the Trinity. 
  • Ask Phillip and Andrew to present you to Jesus.
  • Leisurely entertain what Messiah Jesus moves you to notice: his presence; his affection; his direction; his counsel and the like.
  • Aware that each of your cells and inmost self pulse with Jesus, ask him to give you the grace to live in a manner worthy of the [the One] you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words teach us how to make the pattern of Jesus’ life our pattern of living. Our scarred and riven world needs us to live his way each day.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
1. Cf. Decree on Ecumenism, 2-3, the Second Vatican Council. Our pilgrimage is no lost wandering because the “Church. . .is like a standard lifted high for the nations to see it: for it serves all mankind through the Gospel of peace” (2).
Wiki-image of thank offerings to the Lord is in the public domain in the U.S. Wiki-image of Jesus feeding the multitude is in the public domain.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics By Numbers

In advance of the start of the Olympics today, AARP posted several stats, including that those in the seats and on the field during opening ceremonies will be over 100,000. The number of McDonald hamburgers the company expects to sell in its Olympic restaurant is 50,000. Find other numbers.
Wiki-image by of Olympic rings is in the public domain.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Workout Pizzaz

To those who think their workouts are lackluster, the video attached to a memoriam for William Staub will prove them correct. Mr. Staub commercialized the treadmill. Britain had introduced it for prisoners to grind grain. Scientists used treadmills for nobler reasons. Read Mr. Staub’s legacy and watch that video by OK Go.


Wiki-image of gym treadmills is in the public domain.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Olympic Apostle

St. Paul was fond of metaphors invoking athletes and athletic discipline. In the U.K. today Olympic temperature runs high. British Jesuit Nicholas King takes a refreshing look at the coincidence of the Apostle and the Olympics so readers might “glean [something] from his writings about what his attitude might have been to the Olympics.” His post is at ThinkingFaith

Wiki-image by Cuzzle of Olympic torch 2006 used by CC BY-SA 2.5.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meeting Not To Meet

The worldwide Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) meets only when necessary. Jesuits call the meetings congregations. Since the Society of Jesus began in the 1500s only 35 General Congregations have met, the most recent in 2008 to elect a new General Superior, Father Adolfo Nicolás
After a general congregation the Jesuits keep abreast of changing circumstances, and representatives of all the Jesuit provinces meet every four years. They assess the circumstances and decide if circumstances demand a general congregation. The first such meeting after General Congregation 35 ended this month in Africa. The Province Express concisely summarized its decision.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sundayword, 22 Jul 2012

We Are God’s Skin
16th Sunday of the Year B (22Jul 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Last Sunday’s gospel reminded us that Jesus sent his apostles on mission. The Twelve and Jesus were separated a while. We may imagine that they returned to him in a week because our gospel selection today follows last week’s when we heard Jesus send them. Away the disciples were busy. They preached repentance; and they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them. On their return from doing Jesus’ work for the first time, it was apt that Jesus have them “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

However, people kept coming and going in great numbers cutting short their retreat, both to rest and to speak more about what it was like to have exercised Jesus’ power. Of course doing Jesus’ work is more than exercising power. Jesus’ response to the crowds showed us relationship, and its companion, presence, were and are as important.
Jesus’ felt for the crowds, Mark told us, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. That’s no throwaway line. It is a clue for us, and it was a cue to the first hearers about Jesus. The first hearers would have recalled that from Jacob’s sons, esp. Joseph, through Moses, David and Amos, the shepherd was a favored image for God and God’s graciousness toward creation. In fact God, the mighty one of Jacob, was named the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.1 Another place describes God’s compassion: 
The compassion of [humans] is for [their] neighbor[s], but the compassion of the Lord is for all living beings. [The Lord] rebukes and trains and teaches them, and turns them back, as a shepherd his flock.2
Jesus, too, called himself a shepherd. His self-designation made God’s relationship with humans one that humans could touch and appreciate: I am the good shepherd.3 I wager most Christians, when they say the Lord is my shepherd of Psalm 23, imagine Jesus. 
This quick glance shows from the outset of the divine relationship with humans, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was no god of wind, fire or thunder. God personally intervened, hearing the cries of the ragtag band enslaved in Egypt and led them out of it. God became their rock, their king, their shepherd. It’s difficult to have
a personal relationship with wind, fire, thunder or a statue. No wonder God’s people early on wanted a king to rule, lead and guide them. Humans in every age need a God with skin, to use a phrase of Fr. Ronald Rohlheiser.4
Yet often people imbibed power they shared with their Creator til they got drunk with it. When you and I use it, that familiar phrase, drunk with power, suggests self-concern and not concern for others, not desiring relationship, not caring to be present to others for their sake. Lest we think this a new thing with us, the prophet Jeremiah reminded us that it’s age old, something that was current in his day generations before Jesus. God’s heart was just as keenly responsive to abide with us as true king, as a gentle shepherd, who will lead us and not dominate.
This was, is and remains the desire of our Triune God, whom we name as Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We want to make ourselves more present to the Trinity. “How can we?” you ask.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Begin as usual to allow yourself to be aware of our triune God present to you with care and love, creating and guiding you each moment.
  • Ask the communion of saints to intercede for you to be more deeply aware of the Trinity’s gracious concern for you.
  • Savor one way that God has or continues lovingly to create you, lead you and guide you.
You may want to write Psalm 23 on a note card—or have it on your phone or iPad—and carry it with you this week. Slowly reading it, moving your lips, may help you begin your 15 minutes. 
  • Whatever helps you, feel Jesus’ response for the crowds for you alone: Jesus tends me so I will not be like a sheep without a shepherd. Noticing his loving attention for each of us helps us proclaim it to those who are near and who are far off.
  • Close saying the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ prayer shapes us to effectively preach repentance, confront evil, as well as anoint and heal.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Genesis 49.24b.
  2. Sirach 18.13; Israel was the analogue in this image. E.g.,[Prophet Micaiah, son of Imlah,] said, “I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd; and the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace’” (1Kgs 22.17). Presence is mutual; religion and godly living help humans be present to the One who remains ever present to us.
  3. John 10.11, 14.
  4. The Holy Longing: The Search For a Christian Spirituality. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001 (date of the audio version).


Wiki-images by Phillip Medhurst of Jesus sending out apostles and by shakko of 3d-century statue of the Good Shepherd used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Discovered: What Isn’t There

Astronomers discovered a spiral galaxy (the Milky Way is one) using Hubble telescope data. Light from it finally reached Earth, “meaning astronomers are now seeing it as it looked just 3 billion years after the Big Bang that created the universe.” The problem is that a galaxy the age of Galaxy BX442 ought not to appear so well-designed.

“The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding,” study lead author David Law, of the University of Toronto, said in a statement. “Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design’ spiral galaxies simply didn’t exist at such an early time in the history of the universe.”
Read the rest of the report in yesterday’s CSM. It includes useful links for down-on-earth readers and thinkers.
Wiki-image by hubblesite of spiral galaxy used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, July 20, 2012


The investigation of the “Vatican’s financial transparency by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body,” did get reported in a mixed and confusing way, as predicted by Mr. John L. Allen Jr. He called the Vatican’s willingness to subject its books to an inspection a “watershed.” Read his All Things Catholic post of today.

Wiki-image by Myrabella of dome of St. Peter used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday word, 15 July 2012

More Important 
15th Sunday of the Year (15 Jul 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
We may see little for us in the Word today. Amos was one of the prophets; Jesus sent out apostles with him to prepare his way by preaching repentance; and St. Paul praised and thanked God in an extended way in his letter to the Ephesians, a single letter originally read from beginning to end in many churches.

Popes write encyclicals for the world church. Not many read them. We preachers don’t preach dramatically like Jesus’ apostles or cry out like the prophet Amos. I suppose we ought at least to awaken faith as they did. Popes, apostles, prophets: they seem out of our league, don’t they? The common denominator is God chose and continues choosing unprepossessing people like you and me, addressing us in the scriptures.
Amos was a shepherd and pruner of trees. Several apostles were fishermen. St. Paul’s learning and religious zeal were no antidote to his human weakness. God’s way of operating throughout the ages has been consistent: to choose ordinary people for the extraordinary desire of God, the salvation of the world. Jesus fulfilled God’s desire as he set ordinary people in motion to do just that: Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.
If we think in our western and modern ways, we miss how extraordinary was the authority Jesus gave them. You and I think nothing of traveling. However, in the ancient Mediter-ranean one would not travel unless one had to leave one’s extended family and the village: both provided a social network and the necessities of daily living.

Further, the ancient Mediterraneans believed in nonhuman beings and ranked them according to power: our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—other gods, archangels, angels, spirits and demons. Jesus’ people called demons unclean spirits, who disturbed human well-being in all manners of ways. Jesus, authorizing his apostles to have power over unclean spirits, gave them new power.

You and I may be mesmerized by power and miss how Jesus sent them: two by two. Each was an extension of the apostolic band, and the companion in each pair was an extension of the other’s family, providing the social network so important to living a human life. Jesus transformed our humanity by his death and resurrection. Risen Jesus sends us, too, ordinary people that we are, to continue his transforming work. By baptism we 
share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ [Jesus] and therefore have [our] own role to play in the mission of the whole People of God in the Church and in the world. [What is our mission? We] bring[] the gospel and holiness to [all], and [transform all] things through the spirit of the gospel.1
We are one another’s support to continue the mission of Jesus. Travel today, as popes, presidents and ordinary people like us testify, is not the limited or even dreaded activity of Jesus’ culture. Our closeness, support, encouragement and companionship are just as important for us as in his culture. It may be more important, for we tend to privatize faith and go it alone because our culture values individualism so highly. Yet, God continues to work through individuals, calling them first into communion with Jesus and with one another so we may allow Jesus to send us for the sake of our world. 
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause, aware of being in the presence of the Trinity.
  • Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus.
  • Speak to Jesus your hesitation at being his apostle today.
  • Affirm your trust in Jesus and ask for the grace to infuse your world with Jesus’ Spirit by the way you live.
  • After several minutes, close your prayer by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which is our going-on-mission prayer. Praying it keeps us close to the apostles, whose mission we extend as we put into practice our faith, hope and love.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 2.


Wiki-image of Chartres window with Minor Prophets was released into the public domain. Wiki-image of Jesus sending apostles is in the public domain.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

On Vacation

Wiki-image by Royalbroil of road to Omena used by
CC BY-SA 3.0.

Untethered from the Net. Enjoy-ing nature’s web in Omena, Michigan, until 15 July.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Wiki-image by Katie Rommel-Esham (contact via bdesham) of fireworks at Epcot used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, July 02, 2012

All Month

31 Days with Saint IgnatiusThe last day of July celebrates St. Ig-natius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Each day leading to his feast, find reflection at 31 Days with St. Ignatius.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Sunday word, 01 Jul 2012

Advantage of an Unnamed Woman
13th Sunday of the Year (01 Jul 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A word about miracles may help our reflection. Miracles “are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic.”1 Miracles invite rather than satisfy. Miracles invited faith in Jesus, and as we know, some who saw his miracles did not believe Jesus, and others opposed him. To invite faith does not mean miracles create faith. No; they strengthen faith already present. As the father of a possessed boy told Jesus, I do believe; help my unbelief;2 Jesus did by freeing the boy of possession.
Today’s gospel selection offers another view of faith, of belief. That father anguished at his son’s suffering; in today’s gospel a woman afflicted with hemorrhages anguished over her sufferings. She suffered physically; worrying, she suffered mentally as she saw her money used up, which no doubt increase her distress. Yet she had faith. Her words,“If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured,” demonstrated faith in Jesus before she tasted Jesus’ healing power. She was a flesh-and-blood challenge to the misunderstanding that miracles create the gift of faith
Skeptics might muse that surely she was on the fringe of one or another large crowd in which Jesus had performed a miracle. Skeptics would say, “She believed because she saw.” Scripture, though, doesn’t muse. It stated she had heard about Jesus. Her learning was one that came to her not from witnessing Jesus at another time.3 She had heard about Jesus.
Faith comes from hearing, St. Paul taught.4 We are hearers, who have never seen Jesus in the flesh. Our faith-hearing is more significant than we may think. The woman in today’s gospel reminds us of that. The fact that she is unnamed is to our advantage: we can easily lend our names to her experience: “When Gerald had heard about Jesus”; or, “When Jessica had heard about Jesus.”
That advantage is of great value, and not only when we may feel afflicted or when we suffer. That advantage aids our relationship with scripture: In whom and how do we see ourselves as we read it? Our seeing changes as we grow and develop as humans and as people of faith. Also certain things remain constant: a sinful tendency as well as a fruit of the Spirit to which any of us may be inclined. The Book of Wisdom voiced God’s undying purpose and the lurking of the Enemy of our human nature, who vies for our allegiance. Hear it one more time.
God fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome [and humans are] the image of [God’s] own nature. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.
Christian living in all its drama as well as its silent eye in daily storms seeks to appropriate God’s desire and brighten the image of God’s…nature in ourselves. They begin by hearing and are deepened by discerning hearts, hearts which are open and receptive to God and skilled at noticing what the Enemy of our human nature subtly and shrewdly has us think is wholesome and godly but is not.
St. Paul put this in practical terms of excelling: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love Jesus and the saints have for us. Every respect includes excelling in generosity, supplying others’ needs, in Paul’s language.
Even more practical for us than the Apostle’s language are the many ways that Gesu Parish and its School offer many resources so we can develop and live our faith. Those resources are not recipes but helps for us in our ups and downs to keep hearing Jesus address our hearts; to keep reaching and touching him; and to keep drawing others close to him and to his recreating love.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the love and light of our triune God.
  • Ask the unnamed woman in the gospel to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words: speak clearly to Jesus about what surrounds your heart or pours from it: Ask Jesus to embolden you to draw near to him—even to run to Jesus—so that Jesus may renew you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to praise God for rescuing us, and to allow God to provide for us and to change[ our] mourning into dancing. Jesus’ prayer takes courage: courage to praise God; and courage to allow God to transform us to be ever more wholesome and brimming with God’s gift of faith.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 548.
  2. Mark 9.24.
  3. The Greek verb specifies what “comes to one’s ears.”
  4. Romans 10.17


Wiki-image of the healing of the woman who touched Jesus garb is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Navmulas of statue of St. Paul used by CC BY-SA 3.0.