Monday, August 15, 2016

Daily word, Assumption of Mary, 15 Aug 16

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (15 Aug 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., 8-Day Directed Retreat
Being Absorbed
It is easy to fix on heaven in this solemnity. The collect recognizes both earth and heaven: We [on earth] pray [to be] attentive to the things above so we may [be] sharers of [Mary’s] glory.1 Retreat helps us be more aware we share that glorious life now—although partially. Perhaps our earthly ‘now’ blinds us, so to say, from the ‘not yet’ of God’s reign—God’s desire for the world—awaiting us. Our triune God longs for us to announce God’s desire by our actions and choices.

To be attentive to the things above focuses on God’s desire Jesus announced by his actions and choices. To be atten-tive to the things above questions us: do we cherish more the values of the world or God’s love and mercy? Does money, position, control or other ways of the world seduce us? For most of us it is not about having nothing; it is about how lightly or how tightly we hold our possessions and our prestige. Mary had little; she felt in the marrow of her bones that God’s love and mercy were the lifeblood of God’s desire not personal possessions or reputation.  Letting ourselves get absorbed in Mary may help more than doctrine—or this homily.

Who is this into whom we let ourselves be absorbed? Mary is our model and mother not because she shares the glory of her son. She is: our mother because Jesus gave her to us; our model for she valued God’s love for her and her people above all. When we let ourselves be absorbed in Mary we notice she was a virgin in a culture which valued many children over few and no children; her virginity guaranteed her little from her culture.

Perhaps easier to notice on retreat may be her unsensational encounter with God’s messenger: God’s angel brought God’s desire quietly while Mary was alone; when the angel left she responded simply—she attended Elizabeth. Her compassion overflowed her candid, lyric prayer: it united her more closely to her people to whom God had long drawn close. Simple things of great significance.

They invite us to be absorbed in Mary. Absorbed in Mary helps us see more clearly and honestly. More clearly: the grace or graces of today and the way another may be deepening or the way we may be shying away. More honestly: how we are responding to what Mary’s son offers us.

Take some time before you retire this evening: ask Jesus’ Spirit to free your mind and heart to imagine Mary visiting you. How is she dressed? Notice her complexion; the texture of her clothing. If she speaks to you note your response to her—even if it is a feeling and not words. Close with a Hail Mary. She who first shared in risen Jesus’ joy desires we deepen our hope in his joy so we may live it as ours now.
  1.  Roman Missal, the Mass of the Day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

“Recent Surge”

An increase in the number of Jesuit priests in America is attributed to the “Pope Francis effect.” The Province Express, an electronic newsletter of the Jesuit Australian Province, passed along that recent statistic yesterday.
Wiki-image of Francis at Angelus by Christoph Wagener CC BY-SA 3.0

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Daily word, 04 Aug 16

St. John Vianney, Memorial (04 Aug 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., 8-day Directed Retreat
God’s Heartbeat
I’m convinced Sts. John Vianney and Ignatius Loyola enjoy one another’s company in heaven’s dwelling places.1 They reminisce how on earth both struggled with studies. Neither let his weakness or his limitations drown his desire. Both desired what God desired. God’s desire is God creating us each moment to be our true selves. A person’s deep de-sires—desires in sync with what is life-giving and fulfill-ing—draw us onward toward growing more complete. If Ignatius did not have a roommate who tutored him in Greek, he probably would never been able to earn his Master of Arts. An education was the only way for him to be who God created, a master teacher of prayer and discernment. Similarly St. John Vianney long wanted to be a priest, yet he withdrew from seminary because he could not understand Latin lectures: all lectures were in Latin. John sought private tutoring. More than being ordained John became who God created: one who, with key helpers, raised girls out of poverty; and who was the most patient and energetic confessor.2

For us our scriptures more keenly focus Christian desire language. Our desire for God and God’s creating work on our behalf is pure gift. Jeremiah expressed God’s desire; hear God address us: I will place my law within you…I will write it upon your hearts; I will be your God, and you shall be my people. …All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord. God desires intimate nearness with us; God creates us each moment with God’s longings within us. As we grow more aware of them some of our deep longings cause us to wonder, worry—even be frightened.

I can feel a question bubbling inside someone: why do we have such great difficulties when God creates us this way? Jesus put it crisply to Peter, who represents us as he represented the disciples and speaks for us: we are humanly wise not wise according to God’s heart. For Peter it revolved around suffering: Peter desired no suffering for Jesus. Later did Peter freely desire what Jesus desired: to collaborate fully with God’s heart, with God’s ever-creating, live-giving desire. What of us?

We are close to God’s heart the more we want what Jesus wants. In touch with God’s desires Jesus felt his desires more strongly, more clearly, and he lived from them. Such a relationship scripture names faith—keeping ourselves in the orbit of God’s creative, healing presence. Modelling our faith on Jesus’ faith frees us to respond to others like the One who was fully free, integrated and alive. Wanting what Jesus wants allows us to engage our corners of the world—including to struggle, to face our fears, even to suffer—by doing all things in ways fully worthy of humans. Doing all things in ways fully worthy of humans is the way the world learns God’s heart. With Jesus we are God’s beating heart in our world. We embody God’s desires for the sake of our world and one another.

  1. John 14.2.
  2. A brief synopsis of the saint the Church celebrates.
Wiki-image by Klapi of Vianney statue CC BY-SA 3.0