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May 31, 2018

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The brightness lingered

He came when I was working in the garden. It was a bright day; I squinted to see him in the brightness.

He said: When your husband Zacharias returns from his priestly duty, you will conceive and bear a son. (I dared not breathe.)

He said: You must name him John. He will be called by God to announce the coming of the Messiah. (I drew a deep breath.)

He said: Zacharias will be mute for a time, because he doubted. (I smiled at this, knowing how stubborn Zacharias can be.)

He said: The Messiah will be born of your young cousin Mary. She will come to you in the spring. She will need your advice and comfort as she deals with her unexpected pregnancy.

I said: I will welcome her with joy.

He smiled and was gone. The brightness lingered.

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Holy is Your Name

My soul is filled with joy
as I sing to God my savior:
you have looked upon your servant,
you have visited your people.

Refrain
And holy is your name through all generations!
Everlasting is your mercy to the people you have chosen,
and holy is your name.

I am lowly as a child,
but I know from this day forward
that my name will be remembered,
for all will call me blessed.

I proclaim the pow’r of God,
you do marvels for your servants;
though you scatter the proud hearted
and destroy the might of princes.

To the hungry you give food,
send the rich away empty.
In your mercy you are mindful
of the people you have chosen.

In your love you now fulfill
what you promised to your people.
I will praise you, Lord, my savior,
everlasting is your mercy.

—Lyrics of  Holy is Your Name, David Haas, © 1989 GIA Publications

 


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May 30, 2018

Mark 10:32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.”

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.

But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Invitation to commitment

Here we have a solemn moment where Jesus shares his forthcoming fate with the Twelve and James and John have the audacity to say, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” In its reading it seems they have ignored what their master just said. But Jesus responds with the freedom and availability he has shown to every person he encounters. What they want is to share in his glory. Jesus responds to them with an invitation to true commitment that might as well have come out of St. Ignatius’ Call of the King meditation: “Whoever would like to come with me is to labor with me, that following me in the pain, he may also follow me in the glory.”

All Christ-followers can indeed share in Christ’s glory, but it doesn’t come for free. It comes with a commitment to the challenges (and joys) of service and laying down one’s life for others.

How would you respond to Jesus’ invitation?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

God, who calls us to a life-changing mission:
Enflame our hearts with the desire to change the world with you,
to share our gifts and take part in your mission.
May we always respond to your invitation to love.
May our hearts be on fire with your love.

—Andy Otto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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May 29, 2018

Mark 10:28-31

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Leaving things behind

I spent a summer traveling through India with three shirts, three pairs of underwear, two pairs of pants, and an undersized pair of sandals. I washed clothes often and I never made choices about what to wear. I wasn’t uncomfortable. The simplicity was freeing. I left nearly everything back home.

I journeyed on with other things though, and still do. Some of them, more than material possessions, still feel impossible to leave behind. Resentment toward people who have hurt me. Guilt for people I’ve hurt. Attachments to technology and a lack of moderation. A deeper concern for how I look than how I feel.

These are roadblocks to a lasting relationship with Jesus. More than extra t-shirts or undersized sandals, these are the things I must give up. The sacrifice will pave the way for deeper holiness and strength, and will lead me to eternal life.

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Dear God,

I let go of my need to be perfect, and I let You fill me with Your perfect love.
I let go of my ideas of fulfillment, and I let You fill me with what I truly desire.
I let go of what I think of myself, and I let You define my worth.
I let go of what others think of me, and I let You tell me who I am to You.
I let go of my appearance, and I let You shine through me.
I let go of my unreasonable standards, and I let You work through me.
I let go of my will for my life, and I let You reveal Your plan for me.
I let go of all of my past sins, and I let You forgive me.
I let go of my reliance on myself, and I let You be my Redeemer.
I let go of how I view others, and I let You love them through me.

—Kate Prain

 


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May 28, 2018

Mk 10:17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

He was shocked and went away grieving

The good man in today’s Gospel approaches Jesus seeking unity with God, and Jesus offers him exactly what he is seeking when he tells him, come follow me. But Jesus asked him to give up the one thing he could not give up, the one thing that he thought showed he was special. The one thing that defined him as a person stood between him and what he was seeking. He valued that one thing more than unity with God.

We all have this one thing that we would find difficult to give up if God asked us. This one thing that we think makes us special and defines us. This one thing that tells us and the world who we are.

What we have trouble understanding is that the one thing that makes us special, that defines us, the one thing that tells us and the world who we are, is the fact that we are a child of God, loved by the Almighty. If we understood this, we would understand that we are truly lovable and it would free us from the need for other things to give us value. We would be free to become the person God calls us to be.

What is my one thing? If Jesus asked me to give it up, could I?

—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 


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May 27, 2018

Mt 28: 16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Three musical keys

One of St. Ignatius’ mystical visions was of the Trinity as three musical keys. He likely was familiar with the high-pitched, faint overtones produced by male choirs in resonant churches. Like the persons of the Trinity, these overtones are both distinct from the root pitch and of one essence with it. If the fundamental pitch did not exist, neither would the resulting harmony. The Trinity is diversity-in-unity; it is communion. As the body of Christ, we too are called to model this loving communion, from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

Do you recognize the rich gift of others who sing a note different from you? How can you actively work toward and pray for this communion of all people both inside and outside the Church?

—Fr. Philip Sutherland, SJ, is a priest of the USA West Province and doctoral student in philosophy at Marquette University.

Prayer

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

—Traditional prayer

 

 

 

 


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May 26, 2018

St. Philip Neri

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Depending on God like a child

Today is the memorial of St. Philip Neri, a contemporary of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Philip is a great teacher of what it means to “receive the Kingdom of God as a little child,” as Jesus exhorts in today’s Gospel passage. It is said of St. Philip that he used to pray every morning, “Lord, keep your hand on me throughout this day, so that I do not fall into sinning.” Whenever he heard news of someone having committed a crime, he was accustomed to say, “Thank God that I have not done worse.”

St. Ignatius said that God wants us to learn not to build a nest on anything other than God. St. Philip was never deceived into thinking that he could achieve holiness through his own efforts or knowledge. Rather, like a child, he depended wholly on God’s grace to sustain, defend, and perfect him.

—Jason LaLonde, SJ is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province who will be ordained a priest on June 9. His first assignment as a priest will be to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Albuquerque, NM.

Prayer

To Know and Love Jesus

My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me.
If You do not help me, I will never do any good.
I do not know You; I look for You but I do not find You.
Come to me, O Lord.
If I knew You, I would also know myself.
If I have never loved You before, I want to love You truly now.
I want to do Your will alone; putting no trust in myself, I hope in You, O Lord.
Amen.

—St. Philip Neri

 


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May 25, 2018

James 5:9-12

Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

A complaint free day

Here’s some difficult advice: do not complain about one another. Imagine living this advice out for 24 hours: no complaints about an annoying habit of a family member, that rude driver or political figure. Quickly we may find ourselves quite resistant to the suggestion!

But James gives us reasons to try. To complain does not mean thinking that everything others do is good. Rather it is remember that God alone is the merciful judge who knows another’s reality. Before I was a mother, I was sure that I would “never” let my children cry in a restaurant. How quickly we let go of such judgments when we experience the reality! We learn our way into compassion.

Instead we can focus on ourselves, not others: our yeses and nos. Today, how do I want to focus on my own actions so that I might better live as a person of integrity?

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Lord, let me remember the many times that you have been wonderfully compassionate to me. Today, as I encounter my brothers and sisters in this great human family, help me to recall how much I, too, am in need of your mercy. Instead of judging others, help me to focus on how I can live out this day with integrity and compassion. Amen.

—Marina McCoy

 

 


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May 24, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Santa Maria della Strada)

Mark 9:41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Do not be insipid

In the New American Bible translation of the closing verse, we read “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”  Insipid. What an attention-getting word, so much more forceful than the poetic older translation “what if the salt shall lose its savor?” We are the “salt of the earth”—those who are called to live the Gospel and share it by the example of our lives. If we are insipid in our faith, in our discipleship, we are useless.

Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus says “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). In what am I lukewarm? In being fully present to prayer? In awareness of the needs of those around me? In compassion for the poor, the homeless, the difficult people in my life?

St. Ignatius advised the early Jesuits to “go, set the world on fire!” How can I apply that advice in my own life?

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to discern where my discipleship is insipid, and give me a heart on fire with love of you and all the people in my life.

—Barbara Lee

 


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May 23, 2018

James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Ignatian indifference

An administrator sent out an email the other day asking the participants of a meeting if they expect to be there. One person replied, “I am planning to attend, God willing.” My first thought was that they were uncertain about their attendance because they might be dealing with a medical issue. I later realized that this person was living out of the spirit of what James is calling us to in today’s reading: Ignatian indifference, that is, not clinging to one’s plans or expectations. All we have is today and we must live out today to our fullest, trusting in God about all the things that follow. As James says, we are a passing mist that appears and vanishes. Ignatius’ understanding of this kind of detachment is about having a complete dependence on God, and not being presumptuous about having things figured out.

Do I live with God in there here-and-now or do I find myself always living in the uncertainty of the future?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next.

—Serenity Prayer

 

 


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May 22, 2018

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Compare and despair

There’s a phrase used by Jesuits – “compare and despair.” That is, when we look around, there’s always someone holier, smarter, more attractive, more productive, more popular, more perfect, more Jesuit.

I have this tendency–to see others’ gifts and, in turn, see myself as less than. More dangerously, I see others’ gifts and try to become something I am not.

Both are expressions of my struggle to accept God’s love. Both seem to say that God didn’t make me well enough. I don’t think I’m the only person who sometimes feels this way, and it is exhausting.

But, somehow God always finds a way to remind me that I am already as great as I need to be. My greatness is my goodness. My gifts are a manifestation of God’s work. I am well-made. Deep down, I know this is true.

Now – what can compare with that?

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can expect only from you. Accomplish your will within me—even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de la Colombier, SJ

 


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As a Jesuit school, Loyola Academy is rooted in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Daily prayer was an essential tool by which Ignatius reflected on his life and deepened his relationship with Christ.

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May 31, 2018

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The brightness lingered

He came when I was working in the garden. It was a bright day; I squinted to see him in the brightness.

He said: When your husband Zacharias returns from his priestly duty, you will conceive and bear a son. (I dared not breathe.)

He said: You must name him John. He will be called by God to announce the coming of the Messiah. (I drew a deep breath.)

He said: Zacharias will be mute for a time, because he doubted. (I smiled at this, knowing how stubborn Zacharias can be.)

He said: The Messiah will be born of your young cousin Mary. She will come to you in the spring. She will need your advice and comfort as she deals with her unexpected pregnancy.

I said: I will welcome her with joy.

He smiled and was gone. The brightness lingered.

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Holy is Your Name

My soul is filled with joy
as I sing to God my savior:
you have looked upon your servant,
you have visited your people.

Refrain
And holy is your name through all generations!
Everlasting is your mercy to the people you have chosen,
and holy is your name.

I am lowly as a child,
but I know from this day forward
that my name will be remembered,
for all will call me blessed.

I proclaim the pow’r of God,
you do marvels for your servants;
though you scatter the proud hearted
and destroy the might of princes.

To the hungry you give food,
send the rich away empty.
In your mercy you are mindful
of the people you have chosen.

In your love you now fulfill
what you promised to your people.
I will praise you, Lord, my savior,
everlasting is your mercy.

—Lyrics of  Holy is Your Name, David Haas, © 1989 GIA Publications

 

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May 30, 2018

Mark 10:32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.”

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.

But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Invitation to commitment

Here we have a solemn moment where Jesus shares his forthcoming fate with the Twelve and James and John have the audacity to say, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” In its reading it seems they have ignored what their master just said. But Jesus responds with the freedom and availability he has shown to every person he encounters. What they want is to share in his glory. Jesus responds to them with an invitation to true commitment that might as well have come out of St. Ignatius’ Call of the King meditation: “Whoever would like to come with me is to labor with me, that following me in the pain, he may also follow me in the glory.”

All Christ-followers can indeed share in Christ’s glory, but it doesn’t come for free. It comes with a commitment to the challenges (and joys) of service and laying down one’s life for others.

How would you respond to Jesus’ invitation?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

God, who calls us to a life-changing mission:
Enflame our hearts with the desire to change the world with you,
to share our gifts and take part in your mission.
May we always respond to your invitation to love.
May our hearts be on fire with your love.

—Andy Otto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 29, 2018

Mark 10:28-31

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Leaving things behind

I spent a summer traveling through India with three shirts, three pairs of underwear, two pairs of pants, and an undersized pair of sandals. I washed clothes often and I never made choices about what to wear. I wasn’t uncomfortable. The simplicity was freeing. I left nearly everything back home.

I journeyed on with other things though, and still do. Some of them, more than material possessions, still feel impossible to leave behind. Resentment toward people who have hurt me. Guilt for people I’ve hurt. Attachments to technology and a lack of moderation. A deeper concern for how I look than how I feel.

These are roadblocks to a lasting relationship with Jesus. More than extra t-shirts or undersized sandals, these are the things I must give up. The sacrifice will pave the way for deeper holiness and strength, and will lead me to eternal life.

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Dear God,

I let go of my need to be perfect, and I let You fill me with Your perfect love.
I let go of my ideas of fulfillment, and I let You fill me with what I truly desire.
I let go of what I think of myself, and I let You define my worth.
I let go of what others think of me, and I let You tell me who I am to You.
I let go of my appearance, and I let You shine through me.
I let go of my unreasonable standards, and I let You work through me.
I let go of my will for my life, and I let You reveal Your plan for me.
I let go of all of my past sins, and I let You forgive me.
I let go of my reliance on myself, and I let You be my Redeemer.
I let go of how I view others, and I let You love them through me.

—Kate Prain

 

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May 28, 2018

Mk 10:17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

He was shocked and went away grieving

The good man in today’s Gospel approaches Jesus seeking unity with God, and Jesus offers him exactly what he is seeking when he tells him, come follow me. But Jesus asked him to give up the one thing he could not give up, the one thing that he thought showed he was special. The one thing that defined him as a person stood between him and what he was seeking. He valued that one thing more than unity with God.

We all have this one thing that we would find difficult to give up if God asked us. This one thing that we think makes us special and defines us. This one thing that tells us and the world who we are.

What we have trouble understanding is that the one thing that makes us special, that defines us, the one thing that tells us and the world who we are, is the fact that we are a child of God, loved by the Almighty. If we understood this, we would understand that we are truly lovable and it would free us from the need for other things to give us value. We would be free to become the person God calls us to be.

What is my one thing? If Jesus asked me to give it up, could I?

—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

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May 27, 2018

Mt 28: 16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Three musical keys

One of St. Ignatius’ mystical visions was of the Trinity as three musical keys. He likely was familiar with the high-pitched, faint overtones produced by male choirs in resonant churches. Like the persons of the Trinity, these overtones are both distinct from the root pitch and of one essence with it. If the fundamental pitch did not exist, neither would the resulting harmony. The Trinity is diversity-in-unity; it is communion. As the body of Christ, we too are called to model this loving communion, from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

Do you recognize the rich gift of others who sing a note different from you? How can you actively work toward and pray for this communion of all people both inside and outside the Church?

—Fr. Philip Sutherland, SJ, is a priest of the USA West Province and doctoral student in philosophy at Marquette University.

Prayer

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

—Traditional prayer

 

 

 

 

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May 26, 2018

St. Philip Neri

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Depending on God like a child

Today is the memorial of St. Philip Neri, a contemporary of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Philip is a great teacher of what it means to “receive the Kingdom of God as a little child,” as Jesus exhorts in today’s Gospel passage. It is said of St. Philip that he used to pray every morning, “Lord, keep your hand on me throughout this day, so that I do not fall into sinning.” Whenever he heard news of someone having committed a crime, he was accustomed to say, “Thank God that I have not done worse.”

St. Ignatius said that God wants us to learn not to build a nest on anything other than God. St. Philip was never deceived into thinking that he could achieve holiness through his own efforts or knowledge. Rather, like a child, he depended wholly on God’s grace to sustain, defend, and perfect him.

—Jason LaLonde, SJ is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province who will be ordained a priest on June 9. His first assignment as a priest will be to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Albuquerque, NM.

Prayer

To Know and Love Jesus

My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me.
If You do not help me, I will never do any good.
I do not know You; I look for You but I do not find You.
Come to me, O Lord.
If I knew You, I would also know myself.
If I have never loved You before, I want to love You truly now.
I want to do Your will alone; putting no trust in myself, I hope in You, O Lord.
Amen.

—St. Philip Neri

 

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May 25, 2018

James 5:9-12

Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

A complaint free day

Here’s some difficult advice: do not complain about one another. Imagine living this advice out for 24 hours: no complaints about an annoying habit of a family member, that rude driver or political figure. Quickly we may find ourselves quite resistant to the suggestion!

But James gives us reasons to try. To complain does not mean thinking that everything others do is good. Rather it is remember that God alone is the merciful judge who knows another’s reality. Before I was a mother, I was sure that I would “never” let my children cry in a restaurant. How quickly we let go of such judgments when we experience the reality! We learn our way into compassion.

Instead we can focus on ourselves, not others: our yeses and nos. Today, how do I want to focus on my own actions so that I might better live as a person of integrity?

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Lord, let me remember the many times that you have been wonderfully compassionate to me. Today, as I encounter my brothers and sisters in this great human family, help me to recall how much I, too, am in need of your mercy. Instead of judging others, help me to focus on how I can live out this day with integrity and compassion. Amen.

—Marina McCoy

 

 

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May 24, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Santa Maria della Strada)

Mark 9:41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Do not be insipid

In the New American Bible translation of the closing verse, we read “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”  Insipid. What an attention-getting word, so much more forceful than the poetic older translation “what if the salt shall lose its savor?” We are the “salt of the earth”—those who are called to live the Gospel and share it by the example of our lives. If we are insipid in our faith, in our discipleship, we are useless.

Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus says “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). In what am I lukewarm? In being fully present to prayer? In awareness of the needs of those around me? In compassion for the poor, the homeless, the difficult people in my life?

St. Ignatius advised the early Jesuits to “go, set the world on fire!” How can I apply that advice in my own life?

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to discern where my discipleship is insipid, and give me a heart on fire with love of you and all the people in my life.

—Barbara Lee

 

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May 23, 2018

James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Ignatian indifference

An administrator sent out an email the other day asking the participants of a meeting if they expect to be there. One person replied, “I am planning to attend, God willing.” My first thought was that they were uncertain about their attendance because they might be dealing with a medical issue. I later realized that this person was living out of the spirit of what James is calling us to in today’s reading: Ignatian indifference, that is, not clinging to one’s plans or expectations. All we have is today and we must live out today to our fullest, trusting in God about all the things that follow. As James says, we are a passing mist that appears and vanishes. Ignatius’ understanding of this kind of detachment is about having a complete dependence on God, and not being presumptuous about having things figured out.

Do I live with God in there here-and-now or do I find myself always living in the uncertainty of the future?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next.

—Serenity Prayer

 

 

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May 22, 2018

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Compare and despair

There’s a phrase used by Jesuits – “compare and despair.” That is, when we look around, there’s always someone holier, smarter, more attractive, more productive, more popular, more perfect, more Jesuit.

I have this tendency–to see others’ gifts and, in turn, see myself as less than. More dangerously, I see others’ gifts and try to become something I am not.

Both are expressions of my struggle to accept God’s love. Both seem to say that God didn’t make me well enough. I don’t think I’m the only person who sometimes feels this way, and it is exhausting.

But, somehow God always finds a way to remind me that I am already as great as I need to be. My greatness is my goodness. My gifts are a manifestation of God’s work. I am well-made. Deep down, I know this is true.

Now – what can compare with that?

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can expect only from you. Accomplish your will within me—even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de la Colombier, SJ

 

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