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May 19, 2019

Jn 13: 31-33A, 34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

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

Pray for those who hurt us

Today’s readings from Acts (Acts 14:21-27) and the Gospel of John address the “time of many hardships.” All of us have experienced or perhaps are currently experiencing “many hardships” at home, at work, or even within ourselves. In many ways, we are not sure how to react to those hardships, especially if they are caused by friends or family.

Jesus’ reaction to Judas’ betrayal is commanding his disciples – us – to love. Jesus also commanded us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray for those who persecute us. Actually, those who persecute us sanctify us. They teach us to be humble. They break our hearts of stone.

Therefore, as a sign of gratitude for that grace of humility, we ought to pray for them. Don’t allow them to fall, for they have participated in our salvation. For, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22)

—-Peter Gadalla, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 2019, and humbly asks for your prayers for his ministry.

Prayer

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

—Traditional prayer


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May 17, 2019

Jn 14: 1-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through 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.

Faith in the Dark

This passage unsettles me. I read it several times over, feeling my understanding grow murkier with each rereading. I struggle to find solace in the words, which often ring with incendiary tones: but how am I not supposed to let my heart be troubled? I do not know. I only know that in accepting the shadows, I am stronger. When I do not know the way, yet I move forward, I am safe. To my surprise, I find company even there.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

God Speaks to Each of Us

God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:

Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don’t leave me bare.

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is.
Give me your hand.

—Rainer Maria Rilke


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May 16, 2019

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfil the scripture, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”

I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.’

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

Knowing and Doing

Today we revisit the “prologue” to Jesus’ Passion. We return to that room, to that table, and we enter the scene as Jesus is finishing washing the disciples’ feet.  After performing this act of service, this act of love, Jesus reminds us that, “servants are not greater than their master,” and He tells us, “if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus is calling us to know and do. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Knowing the benefits of sunscreen does not reduce the incidence of melanoma. You actually have to apply sunscreen if you want to protect your skin.  Knowing empowers us, it cultivates the desire within us, to do. Knowing God’s love for me empowers me to love – love that manifests itself in deeds, in service. What is Jesus calling you to know and do today?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness

to give us all abundant grace

ever to know his most holy will

and perfectly to fulfill it.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 15, 2019

Jn 12: 44-50

Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.

And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told 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.

A light in the darkness

Light (hope) and darkness (despair) are both realities in our lives, but Jesus is always the light in the darkness. He also sends people to be a light of hope, love, and joy in our lives. Are we open enough to notice and to believe in this light? Who brings us light in our lives today? Do we savor and appreciate these people of light?

Jesus also sends us forth to be light in people’s lives. Who needs hope, love, and joy right now? Who needs our light?

Let us thank Jesus for being the ultimate light of the world showing us that light (hope) will always prevail over darkness (despair) and we pray that we can listen to his call to be light to others.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

God is there all the time, waiting. But, like God’s forgiveness, God’s will to share the divine aliveness with us can’t activate until we invite it. It is the heart-stopping understanding that despite our shortcomings, despite our seeming insignificance to most of those around us, the God who dwells in unapproachable light dwells within us. As he did in a Bethlehem stable.

—William J. O’Malley, SJ


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May 14, 2019

St. Matthias

Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

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.

Surrendering our decisions

Choosing Judas’ successor was a critical appointment for the Apostles. To make this decision, they “gave lots,” the 1st century equivalent of drawing straws.

I teach motivated seniors some of the basic principles of Ignatian discernment. We use the college application process as an opportunity to put these principles into practice. Students question whether God is calling them to go in-state or far away, urban or rural, Marquette or Notre Dame.

At our March meeting, some students still hadn’t settled on a school, and yet spoke beautifully of their sense that God was leading them into the unknown. Very Ignatian! The Apostles in this reading? Not so much.

Discernment quibbles aside, the Apostles’ confidence in God is inspiring. They knew this selection was not theirs to make, but God’s. At this moment, many of us may be agonizing over a critical decision in our work or family life. As we celebrate this feast of St. Matthias, may we take heart in knowing that God can find a way to do great things through very ordinary people.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive
All my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
And my entire will.

As I contemplate this decision, Lord,
Remind me that You go with me everywhere.
Give me only your companionship,
No matter what path I choose.
That is enough for me.

—Adapted from the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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May 13, 2019

Jn 10: 1-10

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate.

Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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 Miracle of Recognition

The word ‘recognize’ comes from the Latin re and cognoscere which together mean ‘to know again.’  We recognize melodies and voices because they were already within us and some experience helped them resurface.  Jesus assures us that, among the cacophony, we recognize his voice. We attune to it because it lives within us. Miraculously, the Good Shepherd’s voice is written on our hearts.

Yet, with numerous competing voices, recognizing Jesus’ voice often requires further reflection.  Ignatian discernment helps us hone in on daily experiences that harmonize with God voice within us.  

The Examen prayer – Ignition discernment’s core practice – helps bring God’s voice to the surface. In the Examen, we reflect on the ‘voices’ we heard throughout the day, in relationships, in art, and in nature.  

The Good Shepherd speaks through people and experiences that bring clarity, a sense of meaning, or lasting peace.

Where have you recognized Jesus’ voice today?

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Daily Examen

  1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
  3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
  4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
  5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”

—A version of the daily Examen


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May 12, 2019

Jn 10: 27-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

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.

Easter joy can’t be snatched away

Today’s Gospel reading is a much-needed note of consolation in a dark time. What with Notre Dame Cathedral a charred wreck, Sri Lanka the site of a coordinated suicide bomb strike, and even the release of the Mueller Report, this has been a hectic, troubled Easter season. Perhaps we should remember that even the first Holy Week was also a troubled time of hurried farewells (the Last Supper on Holy Thursday); injustice, denials, and betrayal unto death (Good Friday); and mourning for the end of an era (Holy Saturday).

But then came Easter Sunday, and it changed everything: not a farewell meal but the inauguration of the Eucharist; not a bitter death but a man saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; not the end of an era, but a new morning for us all.

And so we remember in this Easter season that our Lord knows us by name, and desires eternal life for us; and that if we but follow Him, all that can never be snatched away. Not all the ruined cathedrals, terrorist attacks, and political dramas in the world can take that from us.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. He will be ordained a priest on June 8, 2019.

Prayer

Lord,
We ask you to help us to worship you with gladness and singing,
              even in the dark times of our lives.
Help us to remember that you made us, so that we are your people.
Help us give thanks and praise to you, blessing
               your goodnes
               and your steadfast love
               and your eternal faithfulness to all generations.
Amen.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ


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May 11, 2019

Jn 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.

To whom can we go?

Who–or what–do you turn to when things get difficult?  For some of us, there might be a trusted friend who you can call at all hours.  For others, it might be the escape of binge watching a tv series. Still others might look to food or drink to comfort us.  But all of these things, even the best of them, are finite. Peter, the apostle who alternates between really understanding Jesus and totally missing the mark, gets it here.  When Jesus asks him where he will turn, Peter replies “Lord, to whom can we go?”

In talking about discerning our path in life, St. Ignatius says that we must first examine the orientation of our lives.  Am I fundamentally oriented toward God, or away from God? Whether we are struggling with a decision, facing adversity, or seeking to follow Jesus’ example more closely, may we orient ourselves toward Jesus and be able to say to him, like Peter, “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
may your death be my life,
your labor my rest,
your human weakness my strength,
your confusion my glory.

St. Pierre Favre, SJ


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May 10, 2019

Jn 6: 52-59

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

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.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty

In The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser notes that John uses the Greek word “sarx” for “body” in Christ’s Bread of Life discourse. “Sarx” connotes not anatomy but earthiness, a body having an odor, getting dirty, etc.

Imagine the Resurrection scene. White burial linens folded neatly in the tomb. Mary Magdalene sobbing, mistaking Jesus for the gardener. Hmmm…would Magdalene have mistaken her dear friend for a gardener if he were in those white linens? Was Jesus indeed gardening? Was he dirty? Was he sweating? Why else would Magdalene mistake Him for the gardener?

Eating the flesh of Jesus entails getting dirty with him, entering into communion amidst the dirt and grime and sarx of life, groveling and groping to serve those underserved. Jesus rose from the darkness into the light and immediately resumed getting dirty, cajoling us to do the same and comforting us by saying “Do not be afraid.” Wow…

Stephen Hutchison founded and leads Revitalization 2000, Inc., a nonprofit organization that emerged from St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church to assist its Ignatian-based mission to serve the poor in the surrounding neighborhood of north St. Louis.

Prayer

Communion

Jesus
may I accept Your cup
and eat Your flesh and drink Your blood
that nourish
and inspire
to faith and gratitude
Believing
in Your rising
Your triumph over death
and Your invitation
to embrace whom You have made me
and my own earthly diminishment
this law of entropy
this necessary stage
and paradox
that leads to death
then rising
delivering me to utter communion
with saints and angels
and You.

Stephen Hutchison


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May 9, 2019

Acts 8: 26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

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.

Faith on a Wilderness Road

Philip is sent south onto “a wilderness road.” Without any uncertainty, he sets out in faith, and the Spirit nudges him into a life-giving encounter with the eunuch.

St. Ignatius believed that God speaks to us through our deepest desires and attractions. The eunuch desired to know more about God, and his curiosity about the prophetic passage from Isaiah prompts him to invite Philip into his chariot. His faith set aflame by Philip’s testimony, he desires baptism.

Our desires, like the eunuch’s, make us curious, nudge us, or pull us with an almost magnetic attraction. For example, a desire to help the homeless prompts you to consider an invitation to join a homeless ministry. Invitations like this may seem to fall into your lap—or into your chariot as the eunuch experienced. But that’s just the way God’s Spirit works!

How is God nudging you to act on a deep desire he’s planted within your heart?

Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Beckoning God, you call me down many wilderness roads, but uncertainty often keeps me from taking a single step. Accompany me on every journey. Nudge me forward in faith through the guidance of your Holy Spirit and the encouragement of fellow travelers. May I always desire to walk more closely with you. Amen.

—Diane Amento Owens


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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.

We invite you to participate in this rich tradition of prayer.





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May 19, 2019

Jn 13: 31-33A, 34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

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

Pray for those who hurt us

Today’s readings from Acts (Acts 14:21-27) and the Gospel of John address the “time of many hardships.” All of us have experienced or perhaps are currently experiencing “many hardships” at home, at work, or even within ourselves. In many ways, we are not sure how to react to those hardships, especially if they are caused by friends or family.

Jesus’ reaction to Judas’ betrayal is commanding his disciples – us – to love. Jesus also commanded us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray for those who persecute us. Actually, those who persecute us sanctify us. They teach us to be humble. They break our hearts of stone.

Therefore, as a sign of gratitude for that grace of humility, we ought to pray for them. Don’t allow them to fall, for they have participated in our salvation. For, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22)

—-Peter Gadalla, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 2019, and humbly asks for your prayers for his ministry.

Prayer

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

—Traditional prayer

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May 17, 2019

Jn 14: 1-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through 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.

Faith in the Dark

This passage unsettles me. I read it several times over, feeling my understanding grow murkier with each rereading. I struggle to find solace in the words, which often ring with incendiary tones: but how am I not supposed to let my heart be troubled? I do not know. I only know that in accepting the shadows, I am stronger. When I do not know the way, yet I move forward, I am safe. To my surprise, I find company even there.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

God Speaks to Each of Us

God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:

Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don’t leave me bare.

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is.
Give me your hand.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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May 16, 2019

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfil the scripture, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”

I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.’

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

Knowing and Doing

Today we revisit the “prologue” to Jesus’ Passion. We return to that room, to that table, and we enter the scene as Jesus is finishing washing the disciples’ feet.  After performing this act of service, this act of love, Jesus reminds us that, “servants are not greater than their master,” and He tells us, “if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus is calling us to know and do. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Knowing the benefits of sunscreen does not reduce the incidence of melanoma. You actually have to apply sunscreen if you want to protect your skin.  Knowing empowers us, it cultivates the desire within us, to do. Knowing God’s love for me empowers me to love – love that manifests itself in deeds, in service. What is Jesus calling you to know and do today?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness

to give us all abundant grace

ever to know his most holy will

and perfectly to fulfill it.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

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May 15, 2019

Jn 12: 44-50

Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.

And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told 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.

A light in the darkness

Light (hope) and darkness (despair) are both realities in our lives, but Jesus is always the light in the darkness. He also sends people to be a light of hope, love, and joy in our lives. Are we open enough to notice and to believe in this light? Who brings us light in our lives today? Do we savor and appreciate these people of light?

Jesus also sends us forth to be light in people’s lives. Who needs hope, love, and joy right now? Who needs our light?

Let us thank Jesus for being the ultimate light of the world showing us that light (hope) will always prevail over darkness (despair) and we pray that we can listen to his call to be light to others.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

God is there all the time, waiting. But, like God’s forgiveness, God’s will to share the divine aliveness with us can’t activate until we invite it. It is the heart-stopping understanding that despite our shortcomings, despite our seeming insignificance to most of those around us, the God who dwells in unapproachable light dwells within us. As he did in a Bethlehem stable.

—William J. O’Malley, SJ

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May 14, 2019

St. Matthias

Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

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.

Surrendering our decisions

Choosing Judas’ successor was a critical appointment for the Apostles. To make this decision, they “gave lots,” the 1st century equivalent of drawing straws.

I teach motivated seniors some of the basic principles of Ignatian discernment. We use the college application process as an opportunity to put these principles into practice. Students question whether God is calling them to go in-state or far away, urban or rural, Marquette or Notre Dame.

At our March meeting, some students still hadn’t settled on a school, and yet spoke beautifully of their sense that God was leading them into the unknown. Very Ignatian! The Apostles in this reading? Not so much.

Discernment quibbles aside, the Apostles’ confidence in God is inspiring. They knew this selection was not theirs to make, but God’s. At this moment, many of us may be agonizing over a critical decision in our work or family life. As we celebrate this feast of St. Matthias, may we take heart in knowing that God can find a way to do great things through very ordinary people.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive
All my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
And my entire will.

As I contemplate this decision, Lord,
Remind me that You go with me everywhere.
Give me only your companionship,
No matter what path I choose.
That is enough for me.

—Adapted from the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

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May 13, 2019

Jn 10: 1-10

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate.

Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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 Miracle of Recognition

The word ‘recognize’ comes from the Latin re and cognoscere which together mean ‘to know again.’  We recognize melodies and voices because they were already within us and some experience helped them resurface.  Jesus assures us that, among the cacophony, we recognize his voice. We attune to it because it lives within us. Miraculously, the Good Shepherd’s voice is written on our hearts.

Yet, with numerous competing voices, recognizing Jesus’ voice often requires further reflection.  Ignatian discernment helps us hone in on daily experiences that harmonize with God voice within us.  

The Examen prayer – Ignition discernment’s core practice – helps bring God’s voice to the surface. In the Examen, we reflect on the ‘voices’ we heard throughout the day, in relationships, in art, and in nature.  

The Good Shepherd speaks through people and experiences that bring clarity, a sense of meaning, or lasting peace.

Where have you recognized Jesus’ voice today?

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Daily Examen

  1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
  3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
  4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
  5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”

—A version of the daily Examen

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May 12, 2019

Jn 10: 27-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

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.

Easter joy can’t be snatched away

Today’s Gospel reading is a much-needed note of consolation in a dark time. What with Notre Dame Cathedral a charred wreck, Sri Lanka the site of a coordinated suicide bomb strike, and even the release of the Mueller Report, this has been a hectic, troubled Easter season. Perhaps we should remember that even the first Holy Week was also a troubled time of hurried farewells (the Last Supper on Holy Thursday); injustice, denials, and betrayal unto death (Good Friday); and mourning for the end of an era (Holy Saturday).

But then came Easter Sunday, and it changed everything: not a farewell meal but the inauguration of the Eucharist; not a bitter death but a man saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; not the end of an era, but a new morning for us all.

And so we remember in this Easter season that our Lord knows us by name, and desires eternal life for us; and that if we but follow Him, all that can never be snatched away. Not all the ruined cathedrals, terrorist attacks, and political dramas in the world can take that from us.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. He will be ordained a priest on June 8, 2019.

Prayer

Lord,
We ask you to help us to worship you with gladness and singing,
              even in the dark times of our lives.
Help us to remember that you made us, so that we are your people.
Help us give thanks and praise to you, blessing
               your goodnes
               and your steadfast love
               and your eternal faithfulness to all generations.
Amen.

—Greg Ostdiek, SJ

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May 11, 2019

Jn 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.

To whom can we go?

Who–or what–do you turn to when things get difficult?  For some of us, there might be a trusted friend who you can call at all hours.  For others, it might be the escape of binge watching a tv series. Still others might look to food or drink to comfort us.  But all of these things, even the best of them, are finite. Peter, the apostle who alternates between really understanding Jesus and totally missing the mark, gets it here.  When Jesus asks him where he will turn, Peter replies “Lord, to whom can we go?”

In talking about discerning our path in life, St. Ignatius says that we must first examine the orientation of our lives.  Am I fundamentally oriented toward God, or away from God? Whether we are struggling with a decision, facing adversity, or seeking to follow Jesus’ example more closely, may we orient ourselves toward Jesus and be able to say to him, like Peter, “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O Christ Jesus,
may your death be my life,
your labor my rest,
your human weakness my strength,
your confusion my glory.

St. Pierre Favre, SJ

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May 10, 2019

Jn 6: 52-59

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

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.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty

In The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser notes that John uses the Greek word “sarx” for “body” in Christ’s Bread of Life discourse. “Sarx” connotes not anatomy but earthiness, a body having an odor, getting dirty, etc.

Imagine the Resurrection scene. White burial linens folded neatly in the tomb. Mary Magdalene sobbing, mistaking Jesus for the gardener. Hmmm…would Magdalene have mistaken her dear friend for a gardener if he were in those white linens? Was Jesus indeed gardening? Was he dirty? Was he sweating? Why else would Magdalene mistake Him for the gardener?

Eating the flesh of Jesus entails getting dirty with him, entering into communion amidst the dirt and grime and sarx of life, groveling and groping to serve those underserved. Jesus rose from the darkness into the light and immediately resumed getting dirty, cajoling us to do the same and comforting us by saying “Do not be afraid.” Wow…

Stephen Hutchison founded and leads Revitalization 2000, Inc., a nonprofit organization that emerged from St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church to assist its Ignatian-based mission to serve the poor in the surrounding neighborhood of north St. Louis.

Prayer

Communion

Jesus
may I accept Your cup
and eat Your flesh and drink Your blood
that nourish
and inspire
to faith and gratitude
Believing
in Your rising
Your triumph over death
and Your invitation
to embrace whom You have made me
and my own earthly diminishment
this law of entropy
this necessary stage
and paradox
that leads to death
then rising
delivering me to utter communion
with saints and angels
and You.

Stephen Hutchison

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May 9, 2019

Acts 8: 26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

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.

Faith on a Wilderness Road

Philip is sent south onto “a wilderness road.” Without any uncertainty, he sets out in faith, and the Spirit nudges him into a life-giving encounter with the eunuch.

St. Ignatius believed that God speaks to us through our deepest desires and attractions. The eunuch desired to know more about God, and his curiosity about the prophetic passage from Isaiah prompts him to invite Philip into his chariot. His faith set aflame by Philip’s testimony, he desires baptism.

Our desires, like the eunuch’s, make us curious, nudge us, or pull us with an almost magnetic attraction. For example, a desire to help the homeless prompts you to consider an invitation to join a homeless ministry. Invitations like this may seem to fall into your lap—or into your chariot as the eunuch experienced. But that’s just the way God’s Spirit works!

How is God nudging you to act on a deep desire he’s planted within your heart?

Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Beckoning God, you call me down many wilderness roads, but uncertainty often keeps me from taking a single step. Accompany me on every journey. Nudge me forward in faith through the guidance of your Holy Spirit and the encouragement of fellow travelers. May I always desire to walk more closely with you. Amen.

—Diane Amento Owens

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