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August 31, 2018

1 Cor 1:17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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.

Jesus present in our suffering

What does Jesus on the cross have to do with me? The cross is a sign of defeat, of pain, suffering and death. But because it’s Jesus on that cross, and because of what comes after the cross (i.e., Resurrection), the cross means something else. It is now a sign that our own defeat, suffering, pain and death are redeemed and made holy. Our disappointment and loneliness are part of the Christian life – are in fact sanctified and holy parts of our Christian life – by the very fact that Jesus, the Holy One, is with us in those experiences on the cross. Even His resurrected body carries his wounds, so there has to be something holy in them, and in ours!

Am I able to feel Jesus’ presence with me in my suffering?

—Ken Weber is a University Minister in the Department of Student Life and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, comfort me in my disappointments and setbacks; grace me with the knowledge that these sufferings are sanctified by your suffering on the cross, and that resurrection with you awaits.

—Ken Weber

 


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August 30, 2018

1 Cor 1:1-9

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Begin by remembering that we are beloved

I have never accused St. Paul of being a man of few words.  As a lector, his writings always feel like huge run on sentences with lots of commas.  When reading, I tend to gloss over his introductions which set out who is writing and who is being written to.  For some reason, though, today’s introduction caught me. At the very beginning of his letter to the people in Corinth, rather than jumping right into business Paul reminds them of the very core of their identity, specifically “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

My days typically begin when I groggily stumble out of bed and pick up my phone to see what has happened in the world since I went to bed.  Checking my email and Instagram are such a habit that I do them almost entirely without thinking. What would my day look like if the first thing I did was remind myself–like Paul reminds the Corinthians–that I am a beloved child of God.  What difference would it make in my outlook on the day if I first rooted myself in my identity as a disciple?

I can ask myself the same question about my interactions with others.  Despite having some problems within the Corinthian community that he has to address later in his letter, he begins with the recognition that they are brothers and sisters in Christ, and wishes them them grace and peace of God.  What would my relationships look like if I began each encounter by reminding myself that I am speaking with one of God’s beloved children?

Maybe Paul’s introductions aren’t something I should be skipping over at all.

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
as I begin this day
help me to pause
and rest a moment in your love.

May all of my actions
spring forth from you,
and may I share this love
with all those I meet.

Use me as your instrument
to bring peace and love
into my relationships
and into my community.

Amen.

—Lauren Gaffey

 


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August 29, 2018

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mark 6:17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.”

Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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.

Affirming those “on the fence”

This story details a real train wreck. Herod displays all the emotional self-control of a young adolescent, whipped around by fear and insecurity, and blinded by desire – all ending in an entirely predictable tragedy.

I wonder how he went “off the rails.” Herod was certainly young and impressionable once. You probably also know some people who may not be showing the signs of heading towards a future as thoughtful, compassionate human beings – maybe potential Herods, maybe potential saints.

Let’s consider a person you know whose future seems “on the fence.” Where is there an opportunity to explicitly affirm the better angels of this person’s personality?

St. Ignatius called for us to seek out and affirm the good in others as a tool of spiritual progress, rather than jumping to point out errors (SE 22). What gets noticed and affirmed — grows.

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

As you contemplate the person you know who is “on the fence,” I invite you to pray with these lyrics from The Servant Song.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are travellers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

—Michael Coffey, song lyrics by Richard Gillard, © 1977, Scripture in Song.


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August 28, 2018

St. Augustine, Bishop and Martyr

2 Thes 2: 1-3a, 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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.

Encouraging each other

The reading from Second Thessalonians offers words of encouragement to a new church struggling to understand what they’ve been taught about Christ’s resurrection. In a sermon he preached after Easter, St. Augustine, whom we celebrate today, preached on a similar theme: How ought we celebrate the risen Christ when the world still looks the same?

In this sermon, Augustine doesn’t completely resolve the feeling of fear; he instead encourages people to sing, but “in the way of travelers [who] are in the habit of singing” and to “make some progress in goodness.” Perhaps that song we sing today can be like a prayer that has been taught through generations: “Jesus, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly.” Both today’s first reading and St. Augustine respond to the mystery of faith not by promising certainty but by teaching us how to encourage each other.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.

—St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

 


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August 27, 2018

St. Monica

2 Thes 1: 1-5, 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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.

Our faith will sustain us

Simone Weil once said that the extraordinary greatness of Christianity is not that it provides us with medicine against suffering, but that it gives perspective to suffering.

In today’s first reading, St. Paul cited the deep faith and steadfastness of the Thessalonians as they faced persecution and affliction. Their example encourages us to lean on our faith as we face the demands of life.

The crucifix is a constant reminder that suffering is part of life. Many of life’s problems and challenges have no answers; we can only live with, in and through them. When faced with crushing troubles, it is especially important to remember that we are not alone in our suffering. Our faith and our relationship with God assure us that God will never abandon us, and that he will give us patience and strength in our suffering.

Speak to God about a problem that has no answer. Then listen!

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things. Amen.

—Unknown, often attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 


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August 26, 2018

John 6:60-69

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

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 you also wish to go?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’s disciples are dispirited and confused.  They get a glimpse of the difficulty of following Jesus in uncertain times.  In our own time, we feel confused and angered by leaders who did not lead; by shepherds who abandoned — or preyed upon — members of their own flock.

We are right to ask Jesus what to make of all we read in the news.  And in the swirl of all this, Jesus gently asks us, as he does his disciples, “do you also wish to go away?”  Put another way, “why is it that you stay?” Why do we as Catholic Christians remain, despite our disappointment in leadership, and our righteous anger over abuse and cover-ups?

Peter points a way forward: “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Trying times have a way of seizing our attention, and refocusing our vision.  We are invited, again, to turn not to human principalities and fallible leaders, but to Jesus.  We are called to tend to the body of Christ, the Church on earth, which is bruised and hurting. We are challenged to give an encouraging word, to bind up wounds, and to reach out to those in greatest need of healing, and to make amends to protect this body of Christ in the future.  

This is why I stay – how about you?

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Lord God, in the midst of hurt and suffering, we ask you to help us turn our eyes toward Jesus, the object of our faith.  May we each live out our role in the body of Christ here on earth, as we strive to work with Christ in building the kingdom.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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August 25, 2018

Mt 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven.

Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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 greatest shall be the servant

It’s nice to be appreciated.  It feels good when we are noticed, or singled out for something special that we have done.  Today’s Gospel invites us to try to forget about honor due to our earthly status, and instead focus on our heart’s relationship with God.  In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius invites us to pray to seek neither honor nor dishonor.

It can be difficult to put aside what others are thinking of us, or to ignore how “successful” we are in the eyes of the world.  But Jesus reminds us that the world’s standard is not the standard by which we are measured. To whom in your life are you being invited to be a serve?  Can you do that in a way that only God knows about?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we seek to be like you and put aside the opinions of the world. Grant us the humility to see ourselves as you do, so that we may be free to serve others as you served your disciples.  We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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August 24, 2018

St. Bartholomew

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

Impressed by Jesus

Are you easily impressed? Nathanael in today’s Gospel seems to be. If someone told me they had seen me and knew me before they met me, I might wonder how, but I probably wouldn’t immediately name them the Son of God because of it. But maybe Nathanael has the right idea. What if we were more easily impressed? What if the very beat of our heart, the respiration of our lungs, the color of the sky, or the handful of peanuts we snack on at work reminded us immediately of God’s goodness to us and God’s care for us? What if in ourselves and in every person we meet, we saw the Son of Man?

How impressed am I by Jesus as I experience him in my life?

—Ken Weber is a University Minister in the Department of Student Life and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, soften my heart today to recognize your grace and generosity to me in every moment.

—Ken Weber

 


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August 23, 2018

Mt 22: 1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’

But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’

Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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.

Where do you see yourself?

Where do you see yourself in this story?  This Gospel passage offers a wonderful opportunity for Ignatian contemplation and putting yourself into the story because it can play out in so many ways.  

There are times when I find myself being one of the invited guests, invited to a banquet that I’ve decided isn’t on the top of my priority list.  What in my life am I giving higher importance to than prayer, or my relationship with God.  

Other times I feel more like the guests invited by the servants, not expecting to be considered worthy of such a feast.  What do I feel unworthy to bring before God?  How can I learn to accept God’s invitation?

I have also placed myself in the role of the unprepared guest without the proper attire, failing to properly respond to such a welcome.  When have I failed to respond to God’s invitation as I should have?

On rare occasions, I have found myself as the king, knowing that I have something amazing to offer, but feeling like no one wants it.  When have I tried to do what I think is right only to run into disappointment?  How do I respond in faith?

Where do you see yourself in this story?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you invite us to the banquet of a deeper relationship with you.  Sometimes we respond enthusiastically, and other times we ignore you. Open our hearts to recognize your invitations as they come.  Give us the courage to respond to you and follow you more closely in our daily lives. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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August 22, 2018

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 20: 1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’

So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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 economics of salvation

A strong voice within me resents this reading. The voice says, “OK, I get that we should endure temporary imbalance of rewards, however frustrating. Even Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins observed this struggle, ‘Why do sinners’ ways prosper? And why must disappointment all I endeavor end?’ But the sheep and the goats! – that’s where it evens up, right?” (Mt 25:31-46)

But this is where our economics betrays me – serve diligently, accumulate worthiness and live confidently upon my record. I like the control in that.

However, Jesus’s economics of salvation – Labor with love, expect nothing and accept gifts with gratitude (and everything is a gift). This is difficult wisdom.

For me, and maybe for you, believing that I am the source of my accomplishments is, in St. Ignatius’s words, a disordered attachment.

Does this reading tweak such a sensitive nerve in you? That’s a good matter to bring to prayer.

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton


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Welcome to PrayLA

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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August 31, 2018

1 Cor 1:17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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.

Jesus present in our suffering

What does Jesus on the cross have to do with me? The cross is a sign of defeat, of pain, suffering and death. But because it’s Jesus on that cross, and because of what comes after the cross (i.e., Resurrection), the cross means something else. It is now a sign that our own defeat, suffering, pain and death are redeemed and made holy. Our disappointment and loneliness are part of the Christian life – are in fact sanctified and holy parts of our Christian life – by the very fact that Jesus, the Holy One, is with us in those experiences on the cross. Even His resurrected body carries his wounds, so there has to be something holy in them, and in ours!

Am I able to feel Jesus’ presence with me in my suffering?

—Ken Weber is a University Minister in the Department of Student Life and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, comfort me in my disappointments and setbacks; grace me with the knowledge that these sufferings are sanctified by your suffering on the cross, and that resurrection with you awaits.

—Ken Weber

 

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August 30, 2018

1 Cor 1:1-9

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Begin by remembering that we are beloved

I have never accused St. Paul of being a man of few words.  As a lector, his writings always feel like huge run on sentences with lots of commas.  When reading, I tend to gloss over his introductions which set out who is writing and who is being written to.  For some reason, though, today’s introduction caught me. At the very beginning of his letter to the people in Corinth, rather than jumping right into business Paul reminds them of the very core of their identity, specifically “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

My days typically begin when I groggily stumble out of bed and pick up my phone to see what has happened in the world since I went to bed.  Checking my email and Instagram are such a habit that I do them almost entirely without thinking. What would my day look like if the first thing I did was remind myself–like Paul reminds the Corinthians–that I am a beloved child of God.  What difference would it make in my outlook on the day if I first rooted myself in my identity as a disciple?

I can ask myself the same question about my interactions with others.  Despite having some problems within the Corinthian community that he has to address later in his letter, he begins with the recognition that they are brothers and sisters in Christ, and wishes them them grace and peace of God.  What would my relationships look like if I began each encounter by reminding myself that I am speaking with one of God’s beloved children?

Maybe Paul’s introductions aren’t something I should be skipping over at all.

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
as I begin this day
help me to pause
and rest a moment in your love.

May all of my actions
spring forth from you,
and may I share this love
with all those I meet.

Use me as your instrument
to bring peace and love
into my relationships
and into my community.

Amen.

—Lauren Gaffey

 

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August 29, 2018

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mark 6:17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.”

Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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.

Affirming those “on the fence”

This story details a real train wreck. Herod displays all the emotional self-control of a young adolescent, whipped around by fear and insecurity, and blinded by desire – all ending in an entirely predictable tragedy.

I wonder how he went “off the rails.” Herod was certainly young and impressionable once. You probably also know some people who may not be showing the signs of heading towards a future as thoughtful, compassionate human beings – maybe potential Herods, maybe potential saints.

Let’s consider a person you know whose future seems “on the fence.” Where is there an opportunity to explicitly affirm the better angels of this person’s personality?

St. Ignatius called for us to seek out and affirm the good in others as a tool of spiritual progress, rather than jumping to point out errors (SE 22). What gets noticed and affirmed — grows.

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

As you contemplate the person you know who is “on the fence,” I invite you to pray with these lyrics from The Servant Song.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are travellers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

—Michael Coffey, song lyrics by Richard Gillard, © 1977, Scripture in Song.

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August 28, 2018

St. Augustine, Bishop and Martyr

2 Thes 2: 1-3a, 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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.

Encouraging each other

The reading from Second Thessalonians offers words of encouragement to a new church struggling to understand what they’ve been taught about Christ’s resurrection. In a sermon he preached after Easter, St. Augustine, whom we celebrate today, preached on a similar theme: How ought we celebrate the risen Christ when the world still looks the same?

In this sermon, Augustine doesn’t completely resolve the feeling of fear; he instead encourages people to sing, but “in the way of travelers [who] are in the habit of singing” and to “make some progress in goodness.” Perhaps that song we sing today can be like a prayer that has been taught through generations: “Jesus, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly.” Both today’s first reading and St. Augustine respond to the mystery of faith not by promising certainty but by teaching us how to encourage each other.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.

—St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

 

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August 27, 2018

St. Monica

2 Thes 1: 1-5, 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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.

Our faith will sustain us

Simone Weil once said that the extraordinary greatness of Christianity is not that it provides us with medicine against suffering, but that it gives perspective to suffering.

In today’s first reading, St. Paul cited the deep faith and steadfastness of the Thessalonians as they faced persecution and affliction. Their example encourages us to lean on our faith as we face the demands of life.

The crucifix is a constant reminder that suffering is part of life. Many of life’s problems and challenges have no answers; we can only live with, in and through them. When faced with crushing troubles, it is especially important to remember that we are not alone in our suffering. Our faith and our relationship with God assure us that God will never abandon us, and that he will give us patience and strength in our suffering.

Speak to God about a problem that has no answer. Then listen!

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things. Amen.

—Unknown, often attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

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August 26, 2018

John 6:60-69

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

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 you also wish to go?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’s disciples are dispirited and confused.  They get a glimpse of the difficulty of following Jesus in uncertain times.  In our own time, we feel confused and angered by leaders who did not lead; by shepherds who abandoned — or preyed upon — members of their own flock.

We are right to ask Jesus what to make of all we read in the news.  And in the swirl of all this, Jesus gently asks us, as he does his disciples, “do you also wish to go away?”  Put another way, “why is it that you stay?” Why do we as Catholic Christians remain, despite our disappointment in leadership, and our righteous anger over abuse and cover-ups?

Peter points a way forward: “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Trying times have a way of seizing our attention, and refocusing our vision.  We are invited, again, to turn not to human principalities and fallible leaders, but to Jesus.  We are called to tend to the body of Christ, the Church on earth, which is bruised and hurting. We are challenged to give an encouraging word, to bind up wounds, and to reach out to those in greatest need of healing, and to make amends to protect this body of Christ in the future.  

This is why I stay – how about you?

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Lord God, in the midst of hurt and suffering, we ask you to help us turn our eyes toward Jesus, the object of our faith.  May we each live out our role in the body of Christ here on earth, as we strive to work with Christ in building the kingdom.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

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August 25, 2018

Mt 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven.

Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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 greatest shall be the servant

It’s nice to be appreciated.  It feels good when we are noticed, or singled out for something special that we have done.  Today’s Gospel invites us to try to forget about honor due to our earthly status, and instead focus on our heart’s relationship with God.  In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius invites us to pray to seek neither honor nor dishonor.

It can be difficult to put aside what others are thinking of us, or to ignore how “successful” we are in the eyes of the world.  But Jesus reminds us that the world’s standard is not the standard by which we are measured. To whom in your life are you being invited to be a serve?  Can you do that in a way that only God knows about?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we seek to be like you and put aside the opinions of the world. Grant us the humility to see ourselves as you do, so that we may be free to serve others as you served your disciples.  We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

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August 24, 2018

St. Bartholomew

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

Impressed by Jesus

Are you easily impressed? Nathanael in today’s Gospel seems to be. If someone told me they had seen me and knew me before they met me, I might wonder how, but I probably wouldn’t immediately name them the Son of God because of it. But maybe Nathanael has the right idea. What if we were more easily impressed? What if the very beat of our heart, the respiration of our lungs, the color of the sky, or the handful of peanuts we snack on at work reminded us immediately of God’s goodness to us and God’s care for us? What if in ourselves and in every person we meet, we saw the Son of Man?

How impressed am I by Jesus as I experience him in my life?

—Ken Weber is a University Minister in the Department of Student Life and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, soften my heart today to recognize your grace and generosity to me in every moment.

—Ken Weber

 

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August 23, 2018

Mt 22: 1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’

But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’

Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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.

Where do you see yourself?

Where do you see yourself in this story?  This Gospel passage offers a wonderful opportunity for Ignatian contemplation and putting yourself into the story because it can play out in so many ways.  

There are times when I find myself being one of the invited guests, invited to a banquet that I’ve decided isn’t on the top of my priority list.  What in my life am I giving higher importance to than prayer, or my relationship with God.  

Other times I feel more like the guests invited by the servants, not expecting to be considered worthy of such a feast.  What do I feel unworthy to bring before God?  How can I learn to accept God’s invitation?

I have also placed myself in the role of the unprepared guest without the proper attire, failing to properly respond to such a welcome.  When have I failed to respond to God’s invitation as I should have?

On rare occasions, I have found myself as the king, knowing that I have something amazing to offer, but feeling like no one wants it.  When have I tried to do what I think is right only to run into disappointment?  How do I respond in faith?

Where do you see yourself in this story?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you invite us to the banquet of a deeper relationship with you.  Sometimes we respond enthusiastically, and other times we ignore you. Open our hearts to recognize your invitations as they come.  Give us the courage to respond to you and follow you more closely in our daily lives. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

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August 22, 2018

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 20: 1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’

So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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 economics of salvation

A strong voice within me resents this reading. The voice says, “OK, I get that we should endure temporary imbalance of rewards, however frustrating. Even Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins observed this struggle, ‘Why do sinners’ ways prosper? And why must disappointment all I endeavor end?’ But the sheep and the goats! – that’s where it evens up, right?” (Mt 25:31-46)

But this is where our economics betrays me – serve diligently, accumulate worthiness and live confidently upon my record. I like the control in that.

However, Jesus’s economics of salvation – Labor with love, expect nothing and accept gifts with gratitude (and everything is a gift). This is difficult wisdom.

For me, and maybe for you, believing that I am the source of my accomplishments is, in St. Ignatius’s words, a disordered attachment.

Does this reading tweak such a sensitive nerve in you? That’s a good matter to bring to prayer.

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton

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