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August 17, 2018

Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, “Live! and grow up like a plant of the field.” You grew up and became tall and arrived at full womanhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love.

I spread the edge of my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness: I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and with sandals of fine leather; I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments: I put bracelets on your arms, a chain on your neck, a ring on your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.

You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, rich fabric, and embroidered cloth. You had choice flour and honey and oil for food. You grew exceedingly beautiful, fit to be a queen. Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God.

But you trusted in your beauty, and played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whorings on any passer-by. Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord 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.

All is gift

We have so much. Even when we’re not aware of it, we have been given everything we have. God reminds the inhabitants of Jerusalem (i.e., us today) that God has given us untold riches in all that we have. How wonderful are the gifts of our intellects and talents, that have produced innovations and works of art to advance our human culture; what a joy it is to experience a fine meal or a relaxing vacation; how peaceful it is to follow the impulses of our hearts toward generosity and charity! All of these things God has robed us in, has bestowed upon us to make us shine in splendor.

How often do we consider that all we have is given to us by God who loves us and treasures us beyond measure? To what do we dedicate our gifts in the service of throughout this day?

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

Prayer

Lord, keep me ever mindful of your continuous generosity to us, your children. Inspire me to use the gifts you have given me for the benefit of others.

—Ken Weber

 


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August 16, 2018

Mt 18:21-19:1

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.

When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’

And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

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 difficulties of forgiveness

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I always inwardly cringe when the forgiveness Gospels come up.  My better self is all on board with forgiving seventy-seven times, but sometimes the side of me that really likes to be right, or to hold a grudge, gets in the way.  The king in today’s story was completely in the right. He was owed an amount of money that his servant had promised to repay. But he doesn’t leave it at that, although everyone would certainly understand if he did.  Instead, he is moved to pity, and chooses mercy over vindication.

What might some of our relationships look like if we stopped keeping track of what is fair, and instead focused on what would be the best for the relationship?  I know that the grudges I hold tend to eat at me, and make me miserable in those relationships. When I am able to really forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that I forget the past, but it does mean that I make an effort to move past the hurt and enter into a new phase in that relationship.  

Who in your life might you offer forgiveness to today?  

—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

Almighty God, You have listened patiently to my concerns and consoled me in times of hardship. Let me remember Your presence and love for me when I am called upon to forgive another person for an unkind word or action. You have shown me how to act, what to say, what to do, and yet I sometimes react in anger and find it difficult to forgive others as You so often have forgiven me. Grant that I may recognize this failing in myself and remember Your words and example whenever I have need of a forgiving spirit. Amen

—Traditional prayer to forgive those who have hurt us

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 15, 2018

Lk 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.

My soul magnifies the Lord

One small thought as you pray one of the greatest prayers in our tradition, the Magnificat…

How does your heart feel if you assume Mary’s voice and proclaim, “My soul magnifies the Lord?”

Does it ring true? Does it feel descriptive? Aspirational? Indicting? When has it happened in the last day? Is it an accomplishment or a gift I experience? What’s my role in giving birth to the presence of God in this life? If I experience hesitancy in praying this bold statement, what is my authentic prayer in juxtaposition to Mary’s?

As you live this day, keep this first line of Mary’s proclamation as a brief prayer and give the Spirit some space to work with you. Your soul does magnify the Lord.

—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 soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

—The Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55

 


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August 14, 2018

St. Maximillian Kolbe

Mt 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them,and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

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.

Becoming like children

The Gospel today presents Jesus speaking clearly and directly, leaving little room to argue over his words: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Caring for a child, who has little to no social standing in his society, is Jesus’ way to greatness, and he does not complicate this message. Feasibility, returns, and personal risk do not measure the depth of his concern and compassion for the wronged. Not only does he instruct us to be like him and care for the least in a way that magnifies their humanity, he also asks us to be like him and see the world from the perspective of the aggrieved.

Though direct, Jesus’ instructions today might rightly unsettle those who hear it. He asks much from us, but he also truly offers a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

—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

Take, Lord, and receive
All my liberty,
My memory,
My understanding,
And my entire will –
All that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it
Wholly according to your will.
Give me your love and your grace,
For that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 


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August 13, 2018

Mt 17:22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,”

Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and 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.

God’s all-powerful love for us

Modern day prophets like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the six Jesuit martyrs in San Salvador, and Archbishop Oscar Romero courageously took a stand against unjust government structures that authorized oppression of the poor and powerless – but not without a price! Jesus, too, often pointed out the oppressive tactics of unjust and merciless religious leaders in his time – but not without a price!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts that he will be “betrayed into human hands.” He knew that his efforts to bring about a world of peace, justice and love would likely bring opposition, but this did not deter him. The Gospel shows how his enemies were trying to entrap him by setting him up to risk a run-in with civil authorities, but he found a way around their scheme.

How might Jesus be inviting me to promote a greater sense of justice in my workplace? My parish? My country?

—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

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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August 12, 2018

1 Kgs 19: 4-8

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep.

Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount 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.

Gift of faith

What does it mean to say “faith is a gift”?  In our first reading, Elijah is ready to give up on life, crying out to God.  He is exhausted from running for his life into the desert. He falls asleep under a broom tree, a desert bush that must sink deep roots to reach water.  In a dream Elijah is told to get up and eat; when he awakens he finds at his side unexpected cake and water. He falls asleep again, and is encouraged again to eat and drink.  Then, and only then, is he ready to continue his journey to the mountain of God.

The ‘gift of faith’ is not a carrot-on-a-stick reward that leads us to God — rather, faith is the eyes to see God’s laboring presence, even in our desert experiences.  Elijah’s story reminds us that God has been faithfully sustaining and feeding us in light of — and in spite of — the circumstances of our lives. God offers Elijah renewal and refuge under a tree, and provides him strength to continue his journey to God.   But even Elijah needs a second reminder.

What, and who, has fed and sustained you in the desert experiences of life?  

—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

Good and gracious God, you offer us the gift of faith and then encourage and sustain that gift throughout our lives.  When we feel despondent, exhausted, or ready to give up, strengthen our faith so that we may continue on our journey to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


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August 11, 2018

St. Clare

Mt 17:14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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.

Overcoming fear and self-doubt

Stories of the disciples, the ones who knew Jesus so intimately and ministered alongside him, not getting it are rather comforting to me.  It’s nice to know that I’m not alone when I don’t measure up to where I would like to be in my faith life! The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles, why did they have “little faith?”

The disciples were likely afflicted with the same things you and I are: fear and self-doubt.  Watching Jesus heal someone and believing that they were capable of it themselves are two different things.  Talking about something and actually following through are different things. In many areas of my life, second-guessing what I am capable of is a full time hobby.

What is something in your life that you need to hand over to Christ and trust that he will accompany you through?  How can you begin to have faith the size of a mustard seed?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

What you hold may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

—St. Clare of Assisi

 


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August 10, 2018

St. Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

2 Cor 9:6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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.

Recognizing the gift

Trust. It’s one of those things that can’t be proven until it’s tried. And it’s awfully hard to trust that we’ll have everything we need when it feels like we’re going without. Often it comes down to expectations. What do we expect to receive? What should we expect to receive? If Jesus gave up his unlimited nature to enter into humanity and then lost his life on the cross, are we not called to surrender even the seemingly little we have into God’s care, to trust that God will take care of us? That doesn’t mean bankrupting ourselves for others, it means recognizing all that we have as gift, so that none of it is “deserved”, but rather all of it is “received.”

What am I holding onto as if it were my own, when in fact it is God’s gift to me to steward throughout this day?

—Ken Weber is interim director of University Ministry in the Office of Mission and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to see all that I am and have as gifts from you, so that I can freely give them away when called on to do so.  Amen.

—Ken Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Jer 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

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.

Written on our hearts

Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise of a new covenant, superseding that which was made to our Jewish ancestors.  God commitment is so strong that the law will be written in our hearts. Think of that! A promise to be with us in such an intimate way that his law and love are at our very core.  We are not God’s mere acquaintances, God says “they shall be my people.”

Edith Stein, who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, understood the old and new covenants.  Born to a German Jewish family, she stopped believing in God as a teenager before encountering the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.  She was baptized, later became a Carmelite nun, and was sent to the Netherlands to try to protect her from the Nazis. Believing that she wouldn’t survive the war, she wanted to offer herself “to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”  God’s covenant was written on her heart. St. Teresa Benedicta ultimately died in Auschwitz.

The way we live out God’s promise in our own lives may not look as extreme as it did for her, but how are we fundamentally changed because God has written on our hearts?

—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

Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing
is merely an accident when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence and has a
completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.
And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory
wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.
Amen.

—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 8, 2018

St. Dominic

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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.

Becoming fully formed in love

Jesus seems to rely upon his culture’s prejudice towards the Canaanites, as he initially dismisses the woman’s entreaty. He then recognizes the mistake of his cultural inheritance as the woman protests to be recognized as a fellow child of God. Jesus subsequently transcends his culture and grows in his understanding of the breadth of love he is called to offer.

We certainly dismiss some people outside of our “tribe” without hearing them. Would you agree? Can we adopt the humility of Jesus to recognize when our opinions are faulty? Can we grow in compassion? I never tire of contemplating this passage using Ignatian prayer of the imagination. Considering a Jesus who had to grow into his great love allows me to aspire to a more mature and loving version of myself. Have you tried contemplating a Jesus not yet fully formed as the one we’re accustomed to having presented to us?

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

Prayer

Although unrecorded, Jesus spent most of his life as a work in progress, which is where we spend our entire lives. Keeping this in mind may lend new power to the Anima Christi prayer that Ignatius includes in the Spiritual Exercises. (This is a contemporary rewording of the prayer by David Fleming, S.J.)

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.

Amen,

—Michael Coffey, including a contemporary rewording of the Anima Christi written by David Fleming, S

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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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August 17, 2018

Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, “Live! and grow up like a plant of the field.” You grew up and became tall and arrived at full womanhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love.

I spread the edge of my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness: I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and with sandals of fine leather; I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments: I put bracelets on your arms, a chain on your neck, a ring on your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.

You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, rich fabric, and embroidered cloth. You had choice flour and honey and oil for food. You grew exceedingly beautiful, fit to be a queen. Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God.

But you trusted in your beauty, and played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whorings on any passer-by. Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord 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.

All is gift

We have so much. Even when we’re not aware of it, we have been given everything we have. God reminds the inhabitants of Jerusalem (i.e., us today) that God has given us untold riches in all that we have. How wonderful are the gifts of our intellects and talents, that have produced innovations and works of art to advance our human culture; what a joy it is to experience a fine meal or a relaxing vacation; how peaceful it is to follow the impulses of our hearts toward generosity and charity! All of these things God has robed us in, has bestowed upon us to make us shine in splendor.

How often do we consider that all we have is given to us by God who loves us and treasures us beyond measure? To what do we dedicate our gifts in the service of throughout this day?

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

Prayer

Lord, keep me ever mindful of your continuous generosity to us, your children. Inspire me to use the gifts you have given me for the benefit of others.

—Ken Weber

 

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August 16, 2018

Mt 18:21-19:1

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.

When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’

And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

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 difficulties of forgiveness

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I always inwardly cringe when the forgiveness Gospels come up.  My better self is all on board with forgiving seventy-seven times, but sometimes the side of me that really likes to be right, or to hold a grudge, gets in the way.  The king in today’s story was completely in the right. He was owed an amount of money that his servant had promised to repay. But he doesn’t leave it at that, although everyone would certainly understand if he did.  Instead, he is moved to pity, and chooses mercy over vindication.

What might some of our relationships look like if we stopped keeping track of what is fair, and instead focused on what would be the best for the relationship?  I know that the grudges I hold tend to eat at me, and make me miserable in those relationships. When I am able to really forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that I forget the past, but it does mean that I make an effort to move past the hurt and enter into a new phase in that relationship.  

Who in your life might you offer forgiveness to today?  

—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

Almighty God, You have listened patiently to my concerns and consoled me in times of hardship. Let me remember Your presence and love for me when I am called upon to forgive another person for an unkind word or action. You have shown me how to act, what to say, what to do, and yet I sometimes react in anger and find it difficult to forgive others as You so often have forgiven me. Grant that I may recognize this failing in myself and remember Your words and example whenever I have need of a forgiving spirit. Amen

—Traditional prayer to forgive those who have hurt us

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 15, 2018

Lk 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.

My soul magnifies the Lord

One small thought as you pray one of the greatest prayers in our tradition, the Magnificat…

How does your heart feel if you assume Mary’s voice and proclaim, “My soul magnifies the Lord?”

Does it ring true? Does it feel descriptive? Aspirational? Indicting? When has it happened in the last day? Is it an accomplishment or a gift I experience? What’s my role in giving birth to the presence of God in this life? If I experience hesitancy in praying this bold statement, what is my authentic prayer in juxtaposition to Mary’s?

As you live this day, keep this first line of Mary’s proclamation as a brief prayer and give the Spirit some space to work with you. Your soul does magnify the Lord.

—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 soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

—The Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55

 

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August 14, 2018

St. Maximillian Kolbe

Mt 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them,and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

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.

Becoming like children

The Gospel today presents Jesus speaking clearly and directly, leaving little room to argue over his words: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Caring for a child, who has little to no social standing in his society, is Jesus’ way to greatness, and he does not complicate this message. Feasibility, returns, and personal risk do not measure the depth of his concern and compassion for the wronged. Not only does he instruct us to be like him and care for the least in a way that magnifies their humanity, he also asks us to be like him and see the world from the perspective of the aggrieved.

Though direct, Jesus’ instructions today might rightly unsettle those who hear it. He asks much from us, but he also truly offers a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

—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

Take, Lord, and receive
All my liberty,
My memory,
My understanding,
And my entire will –
All that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it
Wholly according to your will.
Give me your love and your grace,
For that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 

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August 13, 2018

Mt 17:22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,”

Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and 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.

God’s all-powerful love for us

Modern day prophets like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the six Jesuit martyrs in San Salvador, and Archbishop Oscar Romero courageously took a stand against unjust government structures that authorized oppression of the poor and powerless – but not without a price! Jesus, too, often pointed out the oppressive tactics of unjust and merciless religious leaders in his time – but not without a price!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts that he will be “betrayed into human hands.” He knew that his efforts to bring about a world of peace, justice and love would likely bring opposition, but this did not deter him. The Gospel shows how his enemies were trying to entrap him by setting him up to risk a run-in with civil authorities, but he found a way around their scheme.

How might Jesus be inviting me to promote a greater sense of justice in my workplace? My parish? My country?

—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

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

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August 12, 2018

1 Kgs 19: 4-8

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep.

Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount 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.

Gift of faith

What does it mean to say “faith is a gift”?  In our first reading, Elijah is ready to give up on life, crying out to God.  He is exhausted from running for his life into the desert. He falls asleep under a broom tree, a desert bush that must sink deep roots to reach water.  In a dream Elijah is told to get up and eat; when he awakens he finds at his side unexpected cake and water. He falls asleep again, and is encouraged again to eat and drink.  Then, and only then, is he ready to continue his journey to the mountain of God.

The ‘gift of faith’ is not a carrot-on-a-stick reward that leads us to God — rather, faith is the eyes to see God’s laboring presence, even in our desert experiences.  Elijah’s story reminds us that God has been faithfully sustaining and feeding us in light of — and in spite of — the circumstances of our lives. God offers Elijah renewal and refuge under a tree, and provides him strength to continue his journey to God.   But even Elijah needs a second reminder.

What, and who, has fed and sustained you in the desert experiences of life?  

—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

Good and gracious God, you offer us the gift of faith and then encourage and sustain that gift throughout our lives.  When we feel despondent, exhausted, or ready to give up, strengthen our faith so that we may continue on our journey to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

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August 11, 2018

St. Clare

Mt 17:14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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.

Overcoming fear and self-doubt

Stories of the disciples, the ones who knew Jesus so intimately and ministered alongside him, not getting it are rather comforting to me.  It’s nice to know that I’m not alone when I don’t measure up to where I would like to be in my faith life! The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles, why did they have “little faith?”

The disciples were likely afflicted with the same things you and I are: fear and self-doubt.  Watching Jesus heal someone and believing that they were capable of it themselves are two different things.  Talking about something and actually following through are different things. In many areas of my life, second-guessing what I am capable of is a full time hobby.

What is something in your life that you need to hand over to Christ and trust that he will accompany you through?  How can you begin to have faith the size of a mustard seed?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

What you hold may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

—St. Clare of Assisi

 

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August 10, 2018

St. Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

2 Cor 9:6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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.

Recognizing the gift

Trust. It’s one of those things that can’t be proven until it’s tried. And it’s awfully hard to trust that we’ll have everything we need when it feels like we’re going without. Often it comes down to expectations. What do we expect to receive? What should we expect to receive? If Jesus gave up his unlimited nature to enter into humanity and then lost his life on the cross, are we not called to surrender even the seemingly little we have into God’s care, to trust that God will take care of us? That doesn’t mean bankrupting ourselves for others, it means recognizing all that we have as gift, so that none of it is “deserved”, but rather all of it is “received.”

What am I holding onto as if it were my own, when in fact it is God’s gift to me to steward throughout this day?

—Ken Weber is interim director of University Ministry in the Office of Mission and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to see all that I am and have as gifts from you, so that I can freely give them away when called on to do so.  Amen.

—Ken Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Jer 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

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.

Written on our hearts

Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise of a new covenant, superseding that which was made to our Jewish ancestors.  God commitment is so strong that the law will be written in our hearts. Think of that! A promise to be with us in such an intimate way that his law and love are at our very core.  We are not God’s mere acquaintances, God says “they shall be my people.”

Edith Stein, who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, understood the old and new covenants.  Born to a German Jewish family, she stopped believing in God as a teenager before encountering the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.  She was baptized, later became a Carmelite nun, and was sent to the Netherlands to try to protect her from the Nazis. Believing that she wouldn’t survive the war, she wanted to offer herself “to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”  God’s covenant was written on her heart. St. Teresa Benedicta ultimately died in Auschwitz.

The way we live out God’s promise in our own lives may not look as extreme as it did for her, but how are we fundamentally changed because God has written on our hearts?

—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

Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing
is merely an accident when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence and has a
completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.
And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory
wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.
Amen.

—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 8, 2018

St. Dominic

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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.

Becoming fully formed in love

Jesus seems to rely upon his culture’s prejudice towards the Canaanites, as he initially dismisses the woman’s entreaty. He then recognizes the mistake of his cultural inheritance as the woman protests to be recognized as a fellow child of God. Jesus subsequently transcends his culture and grows in his understanding of the breadth of love he is called to offer.

We certainly dismiss some people outside of our “tribe” without hearing them. Would you agree? Can we adopt the humility of Jesus to recognize when our opinions are faulty? Can we grow in compassion? I never tire of contemplating this passage using Ignatian prayer of the imagination. Considering a Jesus who had to grow into his great love allows me to aspire to a more mature and loving version of myself. Have you tried contemplating a Jesus not yet fully formed as the one we’re accustomed to having presented to us?

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

Prayer

Although unrecorded, Jesus spent most of his life as a work in progress, which is where we spend our entire lives. Keeping this in mind may lend new power to the Anima Christi prayer that Ignatius includes in the Spiritual Exercises. (This is a contemporary rewording of the prayer by David Fleming, S.J.)

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.

Amen,

—Michael Coffey, including a contemporary rewording of the Anima Christi written by David Fleming, S

 

 

 

 

 

 

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