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True Love and Acceptance
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Embarrassment

The Gospels were written 40-60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Prior to that, words and actions of Jesus were passed on verbally, and some were probably written down (although none of these earlier writings has been found).

 Each evangelist had access to some of these oral and written traditions, and used them to put together his Gospel.  The details of these earlier traditions were sometimes changed as they were passed on.  So, one can ask whether every detail in the Gospels is accurate.  Did Jesus speak “these exact words”?  Did this even happen “exactly this way”? 

 One of several tools by which scholars try to resolve this is the “criterion of embarrassment.”  The natural tendency would not be to add embarrassing details, but rather to soften or suppress them.  So, the more embarrassing a detail, the more it might be an indication that it happened that way. 

 The story of the betrayal by Judas is an example of this.  Did it really happen?  The criterion of “embarrassment” (plus the fact it is told in all four Gospels) makes a very strong case for the fact that this story accurately describes an historical fact.  The Little Black Book of Lent, 2007,  Catherine Haven

 

Pray for the peaceful passing of Richard Carl ’81 to his loving Lord. Special prayers for his family and the SJJ community.  Yesterday our students participated in Reconciliation services during their theology classes.  This is a particularly tough part of a school year, pray that they may finish out to the rest of the year doing their best.  Pray especially for our seniors who are making college decisions now and finishing their time at SJJ. I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord, whoever believes in me will never die (John 11:25). Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 

God’s love is more mysterious than we can know. Yet, He is always present. (Martin Scorsese)

“Our Lord had searched out the ragged and the dirty.  Among the people who appeared in the pages of Scripture, those whom Christ had searched after in love were the woman of Capharnaum with the issue of blood, the woman caught in adultery whom men had wanted to stone – people with no attraction, no beauty.  Anyone could be attracted by the beautiful and the charming.  But could such attraction be called love?  True love was to accept humanity when wasted like rags and tatters.  Theoretically the priest knew this; but still he could not forgive Kichijiro.  Once again near his face came the face of Christ, wet with tears.  When the gentle eyes looked straight into his, the priest filled with shame.”

The quote above is from the novel Silence by Shusaku Endo.  Recently this book was put to film by Martin Scorsese. It is the story of two Portuguese Jesuits in seventeenth-century Japan, who traveled to a Japan hostile to their religion, where feudal lords brutally force Christians to publicly renounce their faith. Many Jesuits, and hundreds of thousands of Japanese Christian converts, were tortured to their death for their faith in Christ.  Kichijiro is the Japanese Judas who turned the two Jesuit priests over to the feudal lords.

 

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What Service means to me - is it to or for one another
Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Our Father who art in Heaven”

The expression “who art in heaven” doesn’t refer to a place but the majesty of God present in the hearts of just men and women.  Heaven, the abode of the Father, is our real homeland, to which we aspire and to which we already belong. (The Catholic Catechism)

Heaven is not a “place” existing outside of time “at” or “in” which one arrives.  It is a state where we feel the peace and love of our Creator.  To be in this state is to know the fullness of salvation of those saved by God – potentially all mankind.  Heaven is based on Jesus’ conquest of death which is a precondition for God’s creatures to enter the life of God Himself.

On passing through death we “shall see one another again”; the human relationships of this world continue in heaven.  Our ultimate union with God and with our fellows means there will be no loss or absorption of our individuality.  (Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.)

Pray for our seniors on day-three of their Kairos retreat.  The theme for today is “What is Christ’s message for me?” If today you hear his voice harden not your heart. (Ps. 95) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Heaven

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be in heaven.

I lived here, knowing that I am here for only a short while.

That it will someday  be granted me to return to my heavenly homeland.

 Not that I never thought: after death there is nothing.

But I knew that this was the voice of Nothingness speaking.

Against  which my body and blood rebelled,

and it was they that guided me during my long journey among human beings.

Their weakness warmed me, their strength supported me,

they were with me in my dreams and in my vigils.

If not for them I would be defenseless; watching them, I composed hymns

In honor of beech canoes, mirrors of smoothed metal, aqueducts, bridges, and cathedrals.

Everything which expresses our resemblance

To the Unstated, our Father in heaven.

Czeslaw Milosz (Nobel Peace Prize for Literature winner.  In this poem he seems to think  that faith in God is founded on a communion with human beings, and on the creativity of human civilization.)

 

Reflection and Self Reflection -An Awareness
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“The Lord’s Time”

 

St. Ignatius is the patron saint of retreats and, because of this, Jesuit schools have excellent retreat programs for students, faculty, and staff.  Last Friday was the SJJ faculty/staff retreat, we reflected on accepting “the cracks in our lives which allow the light of God’s love to enter.”  The retreat was led by SJJ grad Fr. Marty Connell, S.J. ’81.  Fr. Connell, the rector of the Jesuit community at John Carroll University and professor of education gives retreats to teachers all over the country and is a master teacher.    

Yesterday, 40 seniors travelled to Maria Stein Retreat House near Dayton for their Kairos retreat. Kairos means “the Lord’s time”; it is a four-day retreat.  

Our first Kairos retreat was during the 1988-89 school year.  Since then we have done well over one hundred retreats Kairos retreat. Our underclassmen retreats build to this senior spiritual experience. The purpose of Kairos is to create an atmosphere in which retreatants can know about and experience Christ more deeply in a setting of Christian community.  The living spirit of Christ becomes visible in all those present.  They find Christ in their families, their relationships, and in their school.

Yesterday’s Kairos’ theme was “Who am I?” Today’s theme is “Who is Christ in my life?” Pray for the success of this retreat.   Special prayers for the retreat team, led by Mr. Luke Rosen. Pray for all our seniors who are fast approaching graduation.  They are making their college choices for next year. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and Life; you have the words of everlasting life. (John 6) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us. Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

Wisdom

It always pleased the master to hear people recognize their ignorance.

“Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance, “he claimed.

When asked for an explanation, he said, “When you come to see you are not as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.”

Fr.Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

Open Up Your Heart
Monday, March 20, 2017

Did you Know?

Those moving to full membership in the Church at Easter took another step yesterday.  The Elect are those who have not been baptized, or recieved the sacrament of the Eucharist and Confirmation.  There are also “Candidates” who have been baptized in another denomination but wish to enter the Catholic Church.  The Elect were called forward in Masses yesterday for a ritual called a “Scrutiny.”  This is the first of three such rituals which will take place the next two Sundays. 

The word “Scrutiny” is a traditional term and means “a search.”  God is like a physician searching for whatever needs healing within all hearts.  The “Elect” stepped forward yesterday with their sponsors and bowed their heads or kneeled.  The Church, then, in prayer, asks God to free them from the power of and influence of Satan and to strengthen all that is upright and good within them. 

The Elect and the Candidates will enter into full communion in the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass.

I hope in You, Lord, I trust in Your world; with You there is kindness and plenteous redemption. (Ps. 130:5, 7) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

“Anyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but the water I will give will become an spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jesus to the woman at the well, John 4.)

The above words of the Gospel of John were read at Mass yesterday.  A few days before this Mass was the story of Joseph thrown into the dry well by his jealous brothers and then sold by his brothers into slavery.  Then there was yesterday’s reading of the woman at the well who wished for a new life: “He told me everything that I have done.”  He told her,  “I have food and drink for you that you know not.”  The woman told the people of the town, “he offered me new life”.

So much of Lent is left.  Lent means “Spring”.  This week Spring begins: warmer temperatures, blooming life; the promise of starting anew.  Winter is behind.  Jesus offered the woman at the well new life.  “My food is to do the will of the One who sent me.”  Let us continue to look at our lives during this Lenten season, find the areas that we wish to change, and open to the food of eternal life that is offered to us by the word of God which is offered to all in Jesus Christ.

 

 

Yes, We can........
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Servant of God Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J.

1645-1711

On this day in 1711, sixty-six year-old Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino was presiding at Mass at the dedication a new church in Magdalena, Sonora.  The church was named in honor of St. Francis Xavier; Francis Xavier was Kino’s chosen patron – he added Francisco to his name in Francis’ honor.  During the ceremony he collapsed; by midnight he was dead.  Commemorating the departure of a great man, the town changed its name to Magdalena de Kino. 

He entered the Society of Jesus at twenty.  A brilliant mathematician, who had been offered wonderful teaching posts at Ingolstadt and Freiburg Universities; he chose instead to share his knowledge in Mexico.  His key mission was to the Pima Indians who had been oppressed by the Spanish conquistadors.  He taught them to develop fields, orchards, flocks and herds.  Under his guidance they built a church, carpentry and blacksmith shops and a grain mill.  They governed village affairs and administered justice.  Kino’s guidance was acknowledged in the saying, “The desert bloomed around him.”

 He was in the saddle constantly, making about fifty journeys anywhere from a hundred to a thousand miles in twenty-five years.  The last of this series would have linked Arizona and California.  The project failed.  His eminence as an American pioneer is recognized by an equestrian monument of him in Tucson, Arizona. “Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

 It is well and good, Lord, if all things change, provided we are rooted in you.  If I go everywhere with you, my God, everywhere things will happen for your sake; that is what I desire. (St. John of the Cross, 1542-1591). Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us.

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” William James

When you are aware, you are in control of emotions.  When you are not aware, emotions control you.  Take anger; to repress anger is a bad thing.  To suppress anger is good, and can be wise.  I stay aware of my anger but am managing it.  I’ll find other outlets later.

All emotions are healthy but can become toxic.  Most people see anger as a negative emotion, one that should be eliminated.  Yet it is a very positive emotion.  The healthy side of anger is its energy.  When you are angry, it is because you want something but are not getting it.  You use that energy to get what you want. If you are working hard at something but your work is not recognized and appreciated, and even worse, someone else gets recognitions for what you have done, you get angry.  Now you use your energy to rectify the injustice. To act out, to punch someone in the nose, however, is not a healthy expression of anger.  It is important to express anger in healthy ways.  Expressing it appropriately is a good thing. 

 Recall the scenes of Jesus angry in the temple, for example.  Anger is one of those negative emotions that we tend to repress, but if repressed, it stores up trouble.  Anger is connected with warmth, enthusiasm, self-confidence, but it is also connected with conflict.  Regarding anger, you have several options.  You can feel it, release it, or express it.  But don’t repress it, or it will do you much harm.  People who explode often do so because they were all bottled up. Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J., The Spirituality of Anthony de Mello

 

 

Seeking Purpose in Everything you Say and Do
Thursday, March 09, 2017

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

1568-1591

On this day in 1591 Aloysius Gonzaga was born.  His father was a nobleman and expected his son to grow up and become a soldier and a member of the royal court.  From an early age he occasionally wore a suit of armor and helped his father review the troops.  But when he came down with malaria and frequent bouts of fever, his father gave up on his ambitions for his son. 

During one of his many recoveries, he prayed, read Scripture with a particular love for the Psalms.  In 1587, the nineteen-year-old joined the Society of Jesus and took the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  In 1590, he was missioned to Rome.  Almost as soon as he arrived famine and plagues covered Italy.  In Rome, he begged for alms for the plague-stricken and worked directly with the sick.

After lifting a plague victim from his sick in order to tend to him,  he contracted the disease.  Fever and a cough set in for weeks; he wasted away quickly.  On the night of June 21, 1591, the twenty-three year-old was given Viaticum; he was clearly on his death-bed.  The pain from sores on his side was unbearable.  With his eyes on the cross the young Jesus gave his life to his Lord.  He was trying to pronounce the name of Jesus, when he died.

Jesuit Saints, and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph Tylenda, S.J.

Let my words reach your ears, Lord; listen to my cries and hear my prayers. (Ps. 5:2-3) St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Idle Talk

In advising people, St. Ignatius sometimes repeated the counsel: “Be slow to speak.”  In silence, he said, grow in kindness, consideration, and understanding.  In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius wrote: “Among other sins of the tongue that we must avoid are idle words.  No idle word should be uttered.  I understand a word to be idle when it serves no good purpose, either for myself or for another, and was not intended to do so.  Hence, words are never idle if they are intended for a useful purpose, or when meant to serve the good of one’s own soul or that of another.  There will be merit if what is said is directed to some good purpose; there will be sin if it is directed to an evil purpose.”

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola

Each day is a new day -Embrace it
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

The Joy of Lent

In yesterday’s first reading at Lenten Mass, there is a beautiful symmetry of God sending the rain and snow from heaven preparing the earth for new life. “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

This is what Lent is about:  Fasting, praying, and alms-giving in order to open ourselves to new life, just as creation itself is beginning to open itself to the new life of spring.  The joy of this Lenten season is this promise of new life.  As the reading clearly states: “so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”  This Lent let us be open and trusting in this word of God, which will surely achieve its purpose in our lives.

Please pray at the passing of Charles Smith ’37, a grad of old St. John’s Jesuit.  He died peacefully at 97 years-of-age.  He attended SJJ right up to its closing in 1929 due to the stock market crash and the depression ( We reopened in 1965.).  He prayed the Rosary daily. Remember your mercies, Lord, your tenderness from ages past.  Do not let our enemies triumph over us. (Ps. 24, from the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass) Saint John Berchmans,, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

The love God showers on us replaces everything for us if we accept it.

God takes away everything from us if we give ourselves entirely to him, but he gives us something else far better.  He deprives us of strength, wisdom, and everything that seems to make life worthwhile.  But then he gives us his love.  And this love burns within us like a supernatural fire. And so it is in our world of grace: each one of us has a special grace, and this is a reward for all of us who cheerfully accept the state that God has placed us.  The whole business of self-abandonment is only the business of loving, and love achieves everything.

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J

All that I have, The Lord has given me
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

St. Henry Walpole, S.J. (1558-1595)

Martyr of England

On this day in in 1595 Saint Henry Walpole, S.J. was dragged to his place of execution outside York, England.  He was offered not to be drawn and quarter if he would agree to sign the English Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the Queen to be supreme in all religious matters, not the Pope. He vehemently rejected this offer and courageously climbed the ladder to his execution.  From the gallows he said an Our Father, all could hear him.  As he began a Hail Mary, his executioner impatiently pushed him from the ladder and he was hanged.  His body was then dismembered, an eye-witness recorded that he saw tears in the eyes of many bystanders.

It was in 1593 that Fr. Walpole was given permission by his Jesuit superior to travel to England to serve English Catholics oppressed by the Oath of Supremacy.  He was arrested almost immediately, exposed as a Catholic priest by a Scottish prisoner on the ship that carried him to England.  Tortured for a year, over and over again, he refused to deny his priesthood. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph Tylenda, S.J.

Our prayers are requested for the father of former SJJ president, Fr. Boom Martinez, who is battling cancer.  Our prayers are also requested for Larry Fall ’69 who also battles cancer in the hospital. “I tell you, anything you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me, says the Lord.  Come, you whom my Father has blessed; inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.” (Mt. 25:40) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.  All that I have Thou has been given me.”  St. Ignatius Loyola

We begin to move under Jesus' standard when we join him in the living conviction that everything we have and are is God's gift.   However much or little we have, we say gratefully, "Look at all God has given me." Then the way opens through the smoke of self-satisfaction and approval of others.  "How can I help?" becomes a daily preoccupation.  And through a life of love and service, the Spirit leads us to live as meekly and humbly as the Lord lived - whether we are a famous athlete or an anonymous computer programmer.

The way of the world differs entirely.  The starting point is getting as much wealth as you can.  When the world's way opens before you, you shift your focus, saying, "Look at me with all this stuff."  You become convinced that you are the center of the world.  You may not have sinned yet, but it is a matter of time.

Joseph A. Tetlow, S.J., Making Choices in Christ: The Foundations of Ignatian Spirituality

 

Where Am I Going to?
Monday, March 06, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

Lent: Turn from the “old”, turn to the “new”.

Lent, a time of rebirth, growth, renewal.  It comes as Spring approaches.  Spring is renewal:  green grass, trees and plants begin to grow again, long, dark days are behind us.  If we look around, if we have eyes that see, God is reflected in His creation: birth, death, and rebirth.

Lent is not a time of suffering, giving up this and that to make ourselves right with God.  It is the time to put the “old” person behind and become the “new” person.  When giving something up for Lent, it would be best to give up that which distracts, takes up too much time, or is making me less of a person than God wishes, than I wish.  In giving things up for Lent, if we intend to make room for God and others in our lives, Lent becomes a joyful experience.  The joy of coming closer to our loving Lord and closer to those in our life, closer to the person we want to be. 

Some important questions in regards to determining what to do, or give-up?  How much time do I spend daily listening to God?  What distracts me, not allowing me to give my heart to God?  What takes me from the key relationships in my life?  What are old habits, that may have served a purpose but are now something to be put behind to make way for the new?

Our president, Father Jeff Putthoff, S.J. has stepped down from this position.  We give thanks for his efforts and pray for him as he serves the Lord in future ministries.  We pray for SJJ as we begin the search for our next president.  As the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters, so our eyes fixed on the Lord our God, pleading for his mercy.  Have mercy on us, Lord have mercy. (Psalm 122:2-3)St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

Living With Elementary Facts

One way to understand the saints – the radiant, aberrant beings next to whom the rest of us look so shifty and shoddy – is to imagine them as cutting-edge physicists.  Their research, if you like, has led them unblinkingly to conclude that reality is not at all what, or where, or who we think it is.  They have penetrated the everyday atomic buzz and seen into the essential structures.  They have seen among other things that the world is hollowed-out and illumined by beams of divine love, that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and that sanctity -should you desire it – is merely to live in accordance with these elementary facts.  – James Parker, “A Saint for Difficult People (Dorothy Day)”, The Atlantic

Reflection - Inward and Outward - What do you see?
Thursday, March 02, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

Three Simple – and Sensible – Things to Do for Lent

Pray - Find that quiet, private space where you can be alone with your thoughts and alone with God. It could be when you go for a walk, while folding the laundry, when you are working on a hobby, on your bus commute to or from work, or that precious time after the kids are in bed and before you start making lunches for tomorrow. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish; it is about making room in your life to nurture your relationship with God.

Fast – Think about what you eat and drink, and why. Try to make healthy choices and support local producers. If you are able, take a short pause from consuming your favorite foods. Take a look and your words and actions. Consider fasting from criticism, impatience, and inflexibility.

Give Alms – With a generous spirit, share what you have with those who have less.

Susan Eaton, Living with Christ, March 2011

Many continue to ask about the progress of SJJ faculty member Butch Welling from his five-bypass surgery.  Butch is at home and is recovering slowly, but well.  He appreciates your prayers.  Lord, may the practices of our Lenten observance make us open to your great love. May we appreciate your great gifts and share them with others. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us. Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Allow the Old to Die, Make Room for the New

Learning to wait well is one of the secret gifts of the soul.  It gives growing time in the dark.

Be grateful for what is ending.  Prepare for what is ahead by readying the soil of the soul for anything and everything God sends.

 “What we anticipate seldom occurs,“ Disraeli wrote, and “what we least expected generally happens,”  Preparation is the process of being ready for both. – Sr. Joan Chittister

 

Look and See
Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

Ash Wednesday

The SJJ community will gather in the chapel today to receive ashes and begin the Lent. The practice of receiving ashes dates back to the 11th century.  By wearing a cross of ashes on our foreheads, Christians ask God to see things as they really are (“Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return”), and to set their eyes on what lasts forever.  They also express their bond with other disciples of the Lord who publically wear these ashes through the day. 

Faculty member Christine Flynn recently gave birth and is on leave taking care of her newborn.  Keep Christine, her husband and her new addition in your prayers.  Pray for our students as they approach the end of quarter three. Pray especially for those that struggle the most. Dust and ashes touch our face, mark our failure and our falling, Holy Spirit, come, walk with us, take us as disciples, washed and wakened by your calling.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

Spring

Lent begins.  Spring is upon us.  New life, new growth.  Time to shed the old.  Prune the tree.  Time to rejoice and grow.  What we renounce, leave behind, the Lord will repay us hundred-fold, He will give gifts we cannot image. Time to make room.

God prepares us for our journey
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Personal Communications, Inc

Shrove Tuesday

Tomorrow Lent begins.  The day before has been called Shrove Tuesday, a term that originates from medieval times, when people confessed their sins in order to be “shriven” or absolved from their sins.  Shrove Tuesday has also become a feast of pancakes.  Traditionally people would make pancakes as a way to use up their supplies of fat, butter, and eggs (foods forbidden during Lent).

Today is also “Paczkis Day.”  This tradition came to the United States from Poland around the turn of the 20th century.  Since the Poles were strict about their Lenten observance, they needed to get rid of all the fat and grease in the kitchen.  A resourceful solution was to fry paczkis. 

Roger Power passed from this world to his loving Lord recently.  He was grandfather to Adam Newell ’17.  Pray for Mr. Power’s peaceful passing and for Adam and his family.  Last night Labre number 230 went to serve some of the poorest areas of Toledo with food and companionship.  Labre is in year five and goes out every Monday of the year with St. John’s Jesuit, St. Ursula, and Notre Dame students.  Pray for the continued success of this service.  Servant Jesus, help us to follow you into the desert, with you to fast, denying false luxury, refusing the tempting ways of self-indulgence, or the way of success at all costs. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” 2 Cor. 8

Monday’s gospel reading was the “rich young  man” from Mark 10.  He was told, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.” The Hebrew word “zekhut” was used in this reading meaning, one gains hundred-fold through an act of renunciation which heaven cannot compel, but highly prizes.  In order to enter God’s Kingdom those things which distract and consume us must be left behind, then the time and opportunity can be found to become the person God created.  Lent is a good time to seek out those distractions and practice the highly prized renunciation that heaven requires if one will find the peace of the Lord.

 

Love thy neighbor as thyself
Monday, February 27, 2017

Freshman Pilgrim Retreat

Student and faculty retreats are an integral part of the spiritual life of Jesuit high schools. St. Ignatius Loyola, the patron saint of retreats, developed the Spiritual Exercises to help people find and embrace God’s will by withdrawing from regular daily activities for prayer and reflection.

Saint John’s Jesuit offers a one-day retreat for faculty and staff, and retreats for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Many of our faculty and staff have done a personal retreat with St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.  The SJJ Academy has their own retreat.

The Pilgrim Retreat (St. Ignatius referred to himself as a “pilgrim” journeying to God in this world.) began last Friday and ended Saturday afternoon. Over 100 senior, junior, and sophomore retreat leaders planned this retreat for weeks. The goals of this retreat are that each freshman will have a greater sense of God’s love in their life, as experienced through family and friends, and the bonding of the  class. 

As a SJJ staff person, I was invited by senior leader Jake Allen to his house on Friday evening for dinner and prayer with his freshman retreat group.  After a delicious dinner prepared by Jake’s mother, the group went to the basement to pray and reflect where God is in their lives.  A faculty or staff member went to each senior leaders house to participate in this evening activity.  We were all asked to talk about how we pray and the senior leaders shared how they pray.  Jake Allen talked about the importance of starting the conversation with God at some time each day. 

Lord, we pray for young people growing up in today’s world: May our discipline be wise and just; and may our love make it easier for them to understand the love of God. Saint John Berchmans pray for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 

All Life Is Encounter (Martin Buber, Jewish mystic)

It is vital to teach Johnny and Mary how to read and write and think and compute.  But if they don’t learn to love themselves and each other, the rest isn’t worth anything.  Self-esteem and the capacity for loving are the most basic skills each human being has the need and right to learn about. – Dr. Carl Rogers

 

Apostle- one of the 12; but anyone who is a messenger of our Lord- How are you called to serve?
Thursday, February 23, 2017
     
 

Blessed James Carvalho, S.J. (1578-1624

Martyrs of Japan

 Fr. James Carvalho’s death was unlike that of most of the other Japanese Jesuit martyrs who were beatified in 1867.  Most suffered death by slow fire, but he was frozen to death on the banks of an icy river in mid-February. The movie out at this time called Silence by Martin Scorcese tells the story of the Japanese martyrs.

 Father Carvallo was missioned to Japan to support the Christian converts and bring more Japanese to Christ.  In 1614 the shogun banished foreign missionaries and ordered the destruction and closing of Christian Churches.  Fr. Carvalho, as were a hundred other Jesuits, was deported to China. He secretly re-entered the country in 1616.  He ministered to Japanese miners and refugees in northern Japan who escaped persecution in southern Japan.  He was successful, but the living conditions in those frigid northern climates was not easy.  In December of 1623 the prince of the area to which he ministered, ordered all Christians to be hunted down and put to death. 

 Fr. Carvalho was captured.  He and other Christians were forced on a seven-day march to Sendai.  They were taken to a prison and given almost no food or warmth for weeks.  On February 18 the final testing began. 

Near the prison was an icy river.  The prisoners were taken to a hole which had been dug and filled with icy water from the river.  They were stripped naked and forced to enter the pit.  The freezing water reached their knees, and then had to kneel.  From this position they were asked to rise and stand exposed to the frigid winds.  They repeated this exercise for three hours, and when their bodies were numb, they were taken from the pit and offered freedom if they would deny their religion.  On February 22 the torture was repeated.  Fr. Carvalho was in the pit with seven others, and together hour after hour they alternately stood and knelt.  As the day wore on, the winds began to blow and a snowstorm came.  One by one they died.  Fr. Carvalho died last.  His voice, which was always raised in prayer, began to weaken.  In the end he was only able to whisper the names of Jesus and Mary.  He died in the icy waters and the soldiers left his body in the pit.  Two hours later Christians came and buried his body.  Jesuits Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

I was in contact with Butch Welling yesterday.  His recovery is going well and he is grateful for all the prayers. Almighty God, grant that this remembrance of your martyr, Blessed James Carvalho, may bring us joy.  May we who depend upon his prayers glory in his entry into heaven.  We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us.

“Lord, I believe, help me unbelief.”  (Mark 9)

Only in prayer can we do all things.  Faith does not do anything, but opens us up to the possibilities, the limitless scope of God’s love. 

Root out all attachments to possessions, riches, needs for success.  These will be used as protection, but they do not protect. They are far from God’s love. Seek no human protection, other than faith in our all-powerful, loving God.  

Take a moment to breathe and pause, Pause and breathe-Its's Amazing
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chair of St. Peter

 

 

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Chair of Peter; it recalls not only the triumph of Christ’s grace in the heart and soul of Peter, but his status as the primary pastor and teacher of the Catholic Church. The chair is the symbol of his teaching authority, as it is of every bishop – at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome there is a chair reserved only for the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. In every cathedral in every diocese there is a chair reserved for the Bishop of that diocese.

The Bishop of Rome is considered the “first among equals.”  The Catholic Bishops of the world trace their lineage back to Jesus’ Apostles.  They represent all the Catholics of the world.  The bishops serve the Church by serving the people of God.  Each bishop is autonomous in his diocese.  The Latin for “chair” is cathedra; hence the church of each bishop is called the Cathedral.  Toledo’s bishop is Daniel Thomas, our cathedral is Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral. 

Lord of life, your life embraces me on every side.  God, grant me a clearer vision of the many-splendored thing, your presence in and through all things. Saint John Berchmans pray for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.

Slow Down

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. Commend all to God, and then lie still in his bosom.
St. Francis de Sales 

 

Love thyself, Love in all things, -Love, God
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Saint Claude La Colombiere, S.J.1641-1682
Fr. Claude La Colombiere slowly made his way south toward Paray-le-Monial, France, the place of his early mission in the Society of Jesus. Frequently stopping because of his poor health, his trip was difficult, but his superiors thought that air of Paray would be better for him.  He arrived in his beloved town in a very weakened state, he needed much help in just getting around, even to dress and undress.  In early February he suffered an attack of fever.  On this day at 7:15 P.M., the forty-one-year-old Fr. La Colombiere died.  He was buried the following day in the Jesuit chapel.
The gentle Claude La Colombiere entered the Society at seventeen.  After an outstanding academic career which won him respect in high places, he was assigned to the obscure town Paray-le-Monial. His assignment as preacher for the Catholic Duchess of York in anti-Catholic England, involved walking a political tightrope. It was illegal to be a Catholic priest in England.  He was arrested when a person, who gained 100 pounds sterling, turned his name in as a Catholic priest. He was imprisoned in a damp and cold dungeon.  His health began to deteriorate and a prison official decided it would be better to send him back to Paray, France.  The long trip back resulted in his death.“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

Special prayers today for the Jesuits at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan.  Colombiere Center is where Jesuit go to retire; their mission is to prayer for the success of the many apostolates of the Society of Jesus.  Fr. Frank Canfield, Fr. John Libens, Fr. Emmett Holmes, Fr. Joe Kappes, Fr. Thomas Radloff, Fr. Bernie Streicher, and Fr. Jack White are former SJJ Jesuits who serve at Colombiere Center today.  Pray today for our seniors on day two of their Kairos retreat, the theme for today’s retreat is “Where is Christ in my Life?”.  I thank you, God, for the pleasures you have given me through my senses; for the delights of color, the awe of the sunset, the smile of friendship.  (Edward King, 1829-1910)  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.  

On Love
In solitude, or in that deserted state when we are surrounded by human beings and yet they sympathize not with us, we love the flowers, the grass and the waters and the sky.  In the motion of the very leaves of spring in the blue air there is then found a secret correspondence with our heart.Shelley

There is Love
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

 

St. Valentine (died ca. 269): A True Devotee of the God of Love

Valentine Day’s originand how many St. Valentines there actually were – remains a mystery even to this day. Many historians now believe there were probably at least two Valentines, both of whom were martyred around 269 A.D.

One Valentine was a priest and physician who, legend says, sent letters of love and encouragement to the early Christian community in Rome during the time of persecution. Another Valentine may have been a bishop who was also martyred for the faith. 

The Church feast day of St. Valentine was dropped from the Roman Calendar in 1969.The custom of sending Valentines on February 14th may have started in the Middle Ages. It was noted that this was a day for love…for it was the day as spring approached, when the birds began to mate.

Pray for our seniors on retreat the rest of this week.  May the power of your love, Lord, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from undue attachment to all that is under heaven. Saint John Berchmans pray for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 “Things have a life of their own.  It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.”  Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

We modern Westerners are so busy with ourselves, so preoccupied with the question of whether we do justice to our own selves, that the experience of the “transcendent” becomes practically impossible. In this way of thinking there is scarcely room for Him who speaks whenever we are silent and who comes in whenever we have emptied ourselves. Instead of making ourselves susceptible to the experience of the transcendent God, we, busy with our things, begin to seek after the small flighty sensations brought about by the artificial stimulation of the senses.
Henri J.M. Nouwen

All who seek Me and those who I seek shall find Me
Monday, February 13, 2017
 

 

 Ten Commandments for Teachers

The following is worth looking at each year.  It is for teachers, but it applies to everyone.  These commandments give a clear idea of the spirit of Fr. Birkenhauer.

  1. Be inspired if you would inspire others.
    2.  Be willing to give; teaching humbles.
    3.  Develop your intellect.
    4.  Supply the real needs of your students.
    5.  Share with your fellow teachers.
    6.  Be fair to those you dislike as well as those you like.
    7.  Discern when to follow the book and when to throw the book away.
    8.  Work harder than you ask others to work.
    9.  Plan for people, not for charts.
    10. Enjoy your work; God loves a cheerful giver.

Fr. Henry Birkenhauer, S.J. (1914-2003) is a familiar, beloved Jesuit to those at SJJ who have been around since the 1980’s. From 1984 to 1990 he was the rector of the Jesuit Community at St. John’s High School.  A native Toledoan, he graduated from the old St. John’s High School and College in 1933. He served as president of John Carroll University from 1970 to 1980.  He operated a seismic station in Antarctica in 1957/58.  

Our prayers are requested for longtime faculty member and coach Butch Welling. Doctors now recommend open-heart surgery this Wednesday.  Keep Butch in your prayers and special prayers for the surgeons involved.  There is no work as to the funeral of Butch’s father, Buck, who passed last week.  Today two groups of our seniors will begin their Kairos Retreat.  Pray for the success of these retreats.  The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me the grace to labor for. (St. Thomas More, 1478-1535)Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 All Will Be Well If We Abandon Ourselves To God

There is a kind of holiness in which all the messages from God are bright and clear, but there is also that state of utterly quiescent faith in which all that God tells us is wrapped in the impenetrable darkness which veils his throne, and all we feel is confused and shadowy.  In this condition, we are often afraid of running smack into a rock as we advance through his darkness. We should have no fear.  We are on the right path and led by God.  There is nothing safer and less likely to lead us astray than the darkness of faith.  Yet we want to know which way we  must go amidst this darkness?  Wherever we wish. It does not matter.  We cannot get lost when there is no road to be found.  Nor can we head for any particular destination, for we can see nothing at all.  We say? “I am terrified of everything.  It seems as if, at any minute, I might fall headlong over a precipice.  God truly helps us however much we feel we have lost his support. Our trust and faith will deepen the darker it grows.  We are incapable of becoming holy by  our own efforts; God would not have taken away our ability to walk  unless he was to carry us in his arms.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence

 

God reveals himself in all things
Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How Can I Find God?

God:  “You will see my back.”

 The Very Reverend Peter Hans-Kolvenbach, SJ, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus had the following to say about the question above.

"You would not be searching for me unless you had already found me,’ as Pascal suggests.  In this sentence, the question posed already contains an answer of a sort.  The question brings to mind the experience of a famous abbot in the Middle Ages.  I see myself more or less in his story.  The abbot used to speak very well, every morning to his monks, on finding God, on searching for God, on encountering God.  He carried on until the day on which a monk dared to ask him if he himself  had ever encountered God.”

         

“After a bit of embarrassed silence, the abbot frankly admitted he never had a vision or a one-on-one meeting with God.  Nothing surprising about that, since God Himself had said to Moses, ‘You cannot see my face’  (Exodus 33:20).  But this very same God taught Moses that he could see His back as He passed across the path.  ‘You will see me pass.’  And thus, looking back over the length and breadth of his life the abbot could see for himself the passage of God.”
         

“For the One who wishes to write together with each of us our individual history comes and abides to live with us--often despite us.   Without these respectful, but definitive passages of God, our life would not now be what it is.  In this sense, it is less a matter of searching for God than of allowing oneself to be found by Him in all of life's situations, where He does not cease to pass and where he allows Himself to be recognized once He has really passed:  ‘You will see my back.’”

Our prayers are requested at the passing to his loving Lord of Buck Welling yesterday morning.  Mr. Welling is father of longtime SJJ theology teacher and spiritual guide to our freshman class, Butch Welling. Pray for Butch and his family.  Welcome, Lord, into your calm and peaceful kingdom Buck who, out of this present life, has departed to be with you; grant him rest and a place with the spirits of the just; and give him the life that knows not age, the reward that passes not away. (St. Ignatius Loyola)Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.
 
  "Six Recognitions of the Lord"

Oh, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
the fragrance of the fields and the
freshness of the oceans which you have
made, and help me to hear and to hold
in all dearness those exacting and wonderful
words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
Follow me. – Mary Oliver
 

 

To be a Christian one must live like a Christian
Thursday, February 02, 2017

Alfred Delp, Jesuit Priest and Martyr (1907-1945)

 

 

 On this day in 1945, Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. was hanged in the Plotznensee prison for crimes against Hitler’s Third Reich. Fr. Delp was a brilliant, young Jesuit preacher. Among his friends and teachers was the great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner. During the Second World War he joined a secret anti-Nazi group that was planning to build a new Christian social order after the war. The Gestapo tried unsuccessfully to link him with a plot against Hitler’s life, but settled instead for demonstrating his “defeatist” attitude, evidenced in part by his membership in the Society of Jesus. Delp noted, “I refused to accept that accumulation of arrogance, pride, and force that is the Nazi way of life, and that I did this as a Christian and a Jesuit.”

Confined to a dark cell and held in chains, Delp passed his time in the Advent season of 1944 writing a remarkable series of meditations. His reflections on the meaning of Advent and Christmas, set not only against the darkness of war, but in the face of his own approaching death, proved a penetrating glimpse of faith, not to mention courage under fire. They also present a disturbing contrast to the pious sentimentality so often evoked by “the holiday season.”
All Saints
, Robert Ellsberg

Today is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It comes shortly after the birth of Jesus; it celebrates an  important time in the life baby Jesus. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. Other traditional names include Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord.

The father of Mike Kunzer ‘02 is going through some difficult health issues and is hospitalized. The family would appreciate our prayers for a rapid and complete recovery. Lord our God, whose compassion fails not: support, we entreat you, the peoples on whom the terrors of war have fallen; and if their liberty be lost to the oppressor, let not their spirit and hope be broken; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (FYI:  Below, I have included the position of the Jesuit Conference in regards to the recent Administration Executive Order.  This statement was sent to all Jesuit institutions.) Lord, help us to listen to each other, to be gentle with one another, to forgive each other and to be willing to laugh at ourselves. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

Have You Surrendered Today?

The fate of mankind, my own fate, the significance of Christmas, can be summed up in the sentence “surrender thyself to God and thou shalt find thyself again.” Others have you in their power now; they torture and frighten you, hound you from pillar to post.  But the inner law of freedom sings that no death can kill us; life is eternal.

The conditions of happiness have nothing whatever to do with outward existence. They are exclusively dependent on man’s inner attitude and steadfastness, which enables him, even in the most trying circumstances, to form at least a notion of what life is about.
Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. (Fr. Delp wrote the above sentences in prison, handcuffed, and awaiting his execution.)

 

Statement from the Jesuit Conference

As members of a global religious order that works to form men and women of conscience and compassion, we denounce the recent Executive Order suspending and barring refugees and banning nationals of seven countries as an affront to our mission and an assault on American and Christian values.

 

The Jesuits – through our work in high schools, colleges, parishes and signature ministries such as Jesuit Refugee Service – have a long, proud tradition of welcoming and accompanying refugees, regardless of their religion, as they begin their new lives in the United States. We will continue that work, defending and standing in solidarity with all children of God, whether Muslim or Christian.

 

The world is deeply troubled, and many of our brothers and sisters are justifiably terrified. Our Catholic and Jesuit identity calls us to welcome the stranger and to approach different faith traditions and cultures with openness and understanding. We must not give in to fear. We must continue to defend human rights and religious liberty. As Pope Francis said, “You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian.”

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There is Hope in everything you do - Seek it
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Father Gregory Boyle, S.J.,

“Champion of Change”

“Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope. Nobody has met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”  Fr. Greg Boyle

Today Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. will speak to the Saint John’s Jesuit community.  Last night in our chapel, he spoke to the  who wished to attend in our chapel.  The below comes from the Homeboys website.

Father Boyle, S.J. is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. 

Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus in 1972 and was ordained in 1984. In 1986, he was pastor of Dolores Mission Church in East Los Angeles.  At the time, Dolores Mission was the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles. He witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called "the decade of death" that began in the late 1980's. In the face of law enforcement and criminal justice tactics and policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.

By 1988, having buried an ever growing number of young people killed in gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members sought to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth by developing positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment.  They called this initial effort Jobs for a Future.  “Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle has said.  “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.” 

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at Dolores Mission, launched their first social enterprise business in an abandoned bakery that Hollywood producer Ray Stark helped them purchase.  They called it Homeboy Bakery.  

 

In the ensuing years after his return to Jobs for a Future in 1993, the success of Homeboy Bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future in 2001 to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

Today, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the subject of Academy Award winning 2012 documentary, G-Dog.  He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.  In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change.  He received the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, the national culinary-arts organization. – from Homeboy Industry website.

 

Pray for the success of Fr. Boyle’s ministry and all ministries which give hope to the hopeless.  Lord, we bring before you the world of children.  We bring their openness and friendliness, this sense of enquiry and creativity.  Help us encourage them, that their spirits may be lifted, their imaginations quickened, and their vision broadened. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“Nobody was mean to you.  Somebody was mean to what he or she thought was you, but not to you.  Nobody ever rejects you; they’re only rejecting what they think you are.”  Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

“Identify less and less with the “I,” and you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything.  Do you know why?  Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked.  You no longer desire to impress anyone.  Can you imagine the relief.  Happiness at last! You no longer feel the need or the compulsion to explain things anymore.  It’s all right.  What is there to be explained?  And you don’t feel the need to apologize anymore.  I would prefer you to say I see what happened; I will try not to do this again.  This is better than saying, “I’m so sorry for what I did to you.”  Why would anyone demand an apology?”  -  Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

Guiding Light
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Great Soul” of India (1869-1948)

“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.” (Luke 6:29)

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist in Bengal on this day in 1948.  “Mahatma” means “great soul” and Gandhi was one of the most influential and challenging figures of the twentieth century.  Influenced, among other things, by Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, Gandhi believed passionately in non-violence.  No circumstance whatsoever could justify the taking of life.  Yet this seemingly frail and defenseless man created enormous social change which led, in turn, to the independence of India.  He did not play politics the usual ways: he stuck to his principles uncompromisingly.

Fr. Michael McGirr, S.J., Finding God’s Traces

Christ, you lived and breathed everything that matters.  Whatever the Spirit that was in you, let it be in me as well.  Whatever energy that healed those who came in contact with you, let it flow through me as well. 

Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“Jesus called human beings not to a new religion but a new life.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

“If I have read the Bible correctly, I know many men who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ or have even rejected the official interpretation of Christianity who will, probably, if Jesus came in our midst today in the flesh be owned by him more than many of us.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

 

 

To Do What is Right and What is Just
Monday, January 30, 2017

Servant of God Thomas Esteban, S.J.

1879-1934

The Jesuit priest Thomas Esteban is honored on this day because it was in the month of January that the Society of Jesus had given up hope of ever seeing him again.  In the summer of 1917, the Jesuit priest had been assigned to the China mission.  In his ministry to Chinese Christians, Fr. Esteban was known for his kindness, simplicity, and amiability.  In 1923, he was given the city of Wuyuan as his mission.  This was a difficult mission:  It was large and mountainous, which made trips to visit his Christians very demanding. 

In 1927 the Chinese communists took over most of China.  On December 17, 1931, Fr. Esteban was imprisoned by the communists; they led him on a five-day walk to the prison he was to be held. Because his captors needed money, they intended to use him as a pawn and set a high ransom on his life.  The Jesuits, consul, and minister tried every diplomatic means available to secure the priest’s release, but without success.  The communists did not want diplomacy, they wanted money.

Fr. Esteban warned the Jesuits against sending money to the communists.  The Jesuits did send money and the representative who brought the money found him very weak, his arms and body had broken out in sores.  He sleeping in a wretched bed that he was sharing a bed with another prisoner and his clothes were ragged.  He was unrecognizable to the Jesuit representative.  The money was not accepted.  Fr. Esteban was never seen again. 

A few years later, after the communists had abandoned the area, the Jesuits convinced the town’s grave-digger to show them where Fr. Esteban had been buried.  His half-covered worm-eaten coffin was found between two trenches.  His remains were fittingly buried.

Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

We pray in thanks for two successful SJJ junior Magis Retreats that finished last Friday.  Spirit of comfort and longing, enfold my fear, unclothe me of my pride, unweave my thoughts, uncomplicate my heart, and give me surrender.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Negative Feelings Toward Others

Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone, you’re living in an illusion. There’s something seriously wrong with you. You’re not seeing reality.  Something inside of you has to change.  But what do we generally do when we have a negative feeling?  “He is to blame, she is to blame.  She’s got to change.”  No! the world’s all right.  The one who has to change is you. 

Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

A Reminder: 

SJJ   

St. John’s Jesuit will bring the Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., (left) founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif., the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world to Toledo.    He will speak at St. John’s Jesuit at 7 p.m., January 31 in the Chapel of St. John Berchmans on the St. John’s campus.  The program is open to the public.

 

 

 

Everlasting Life
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Conversion of St. Paul: When Life Takes Us Down A Different Road

 

 

Today the Christian community recalls one of the key events in its early history, the conversion of St. Paul. The change in Paul’s life was so significant that his name was changed: as Saul he was involved in the death of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. As Paul, he became a powerful witness to the life of the risen Jesus. Paul had a remarkable ability to articulate the message of Jesus and great deal of our theology rests on his letters, which were actually written before the gospels. Yet he was also aware of his own limitations. Paul never denied the past, and it says a lot about the freedom of the early Christians that he was accepted among them. On the road to Damascus, Paul’s life was turned around. None of us can say when we might be travelling a similar road ourselves.  –Fr. Michael McGirr, S.J.

Please pray at the passing to his loving Lord of Eric Mugler ’01. An OLPH graduate in Toledo, he passed from this life at his home in Chicago.  Special prayers for his mother and father and his large family.  Pray, also, for his SJJ classmates, the class of 2001. Tonight about 60 juniors will go to two retreat houses to begin their Junior Magis Retreat.  Magis (Latin for “more”)is the term used by St. Ignatius in reference to the question, What more is Christ calling me to do? Pray for these juniors as they reflect on this important question as they finish their time at SJJ.  Teach me Lord, the power and strength of silence, that I may go into the world as still as a mouse in the depths of my heart. (Mechtild of Madgeburg,1207-1294) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us. Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

God is nothing but life eternal, effervescent life!

Every word in heaven is a reflection of the hearts intent. – Ibn Zerhant, The Hidden Meaning of the Last Mystery

Christ spoke in parables from daily life, clarifying the truth with the light of everyday things.  At the basis of this lies the thought that communion among mortals is immortal and that life is symbolic because it is meaningful.  – Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Christ freed us from the finality of death by showing us that life does not end at the end of biological life.  The cessation of biological life is but a taking possession of the potentialities inherent in the cause of the beginning of life.- Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.    

 

I talked with God today
Monday, January 23, 2017

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

 Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the day established by the Church formally named  as Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Today at SJJ we will celebrate Mass “For Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life.”

 Love is not merely a feeling, but is rather the desire for the best possible good for those whom we love. Mere reason leads us to comprehend that it is better to be alive than never have had been in existence. The knowledge of the value of life that comes through revelation leads us to understand better this gift and to appreciate it: as a result, we worship and love more and more the Giver of this gift. This love is what moves us to protect the life of the unborn or any who might be unjustly treated. We are also led to protect and love women that might feel tempted or feel forced to commit abortion, as we know the devastating consequences that abortion has in their lives. All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. He looked upon himself and wished that other beings would share in His own happiness. His greatness leads us to comprehend that He has brought us out of nothing with a purpose, because knowing His intelligence and His loving nature it is clear that all His actions are always guided by a magnificent purpose. – Catholic Culture. Org

Lord, we offer our prayers for all children of the world, especially those who are unloved, abused, starving, bullied orphaned, or afraid. Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father (Mt. 18:10).” Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

  Where Do We Find God?

 The more we love earthly things, reputation, importance, ease, success and pleasures, for ourselves, the less we love God. (Thomas Merton)

 Detachment in poverty offers the unheard-of chance to stand without fear in a violent world. (Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen)

 Does all our talk and discussion about God bring us closer to Him? (Thomas Merton)

 In the way of thinking that involves talking, discussing, analyzing, and criticizing, there is scarcely room for the God who speaks whenever we are silent and who come in wherever we have emptied ourselves. (Fr. Nouwen)

 An Invitation to All

The Society of Jesus and Saint John’s Jesuit has Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. to speak to our SJJ community.  Everyone can hear this powerful speaker for faith and justice in our chapel.  See the note below:

Homeboy Industries Speaker coming to SJJ   

St. John’s Jesuit will bring the Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., (left) founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif., the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world to Toledo.    He will speak at St. John’s Jesuit at 7 p.m., January 31 in the Chapel of St. John Berchmans on the St. John’s campus.  The program is open to the public.

 

 

believe in me, Believe in Me
Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Martyrs of Aubenas

Today’s feast day honors Blessed James Sales, S.J. (1556-1593) and Blessed William Saultemouche, S.J. (1557-1593) martyred for their defense of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist in Aubenas, France.  France was being torn apart by civil wars, known as the Wars of Religion.  Since 1562 the Huguenots, or French Calvinists, sought to force their religious views on Catholics by violence. So much so that France had become mission territory for the Church.  Fr. Sales and Fr. Saultemouche had been given the task of making clear Catholic teachings against the Calvinists.  Careful never attacking them, the two were very successful. 

In February of 1593, they were arrested in Aubenas, France by Huguenot soldiers; they were forced to defend Catholic teaching against Calvinist ministers. They defended Catholic doctrine at length.  After a long period of debate, not being fed, and spending nights in a damp prison cell, both were asked to reject the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When Fr. Sale refused to do this he was shot in the back; Fr. Saultemouche was stabbed to death with a sword. The Calvinists had their bodies dragged through the streets like dead animals; their bodies were not buried.
Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

 

 “If anyone serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there also shall my servant be.” (John12/26)  Lord, whatever the world may say, may we only pay attention to what you are saying to me, and seek only your approval, which far outweighs any honor or praise that the world might give. Saint John Berchmans pray for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 

 The heart is only fifteen inches from the head.

When people succeed in coming home to themselves and glimpsing their own inner beauty, something amazing happens: they are blessed with a real compassion for who they themselves are, in all their vulnerability.  This compassion, in turn, carves out a space where they can welcome God into their hearts.  It is as if they must first become aware of the marvel of themselves, and only then are they ready to get in touch with the wonder of God.  Their new relationship with themselves ushers in a nourishing friendship with the One who has always been calling them.

This journey inward does not take place overnight.  Although the heart is only fifteen inches from the head, it can take us years to arrive at our emotional core.  I used to imagine that God didn’t particularly like the world because it wasn’t spiritual enough.  Only later it dawned on me that God had created the world in love, and had passionately left clues to this fact everywhere.  The persons and events of my daily life were already signs of God.  Had I paid compassionate attention to my longings  and my joys, I would have heard in them the symphony of God’s own infinite joy.  God was intimately involved in my life, but I was sadly ignorant of the riches inside me.  To find God, I did not have to leave the world, but to come home to it – and to myself – and God would be there, waiting for me. – the Irish Jesuits

Focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life right now
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  (Matthew 6:8)

The following memo was found on a hot and difficult day under a windscreen wiper in the parking of a crowded shopping center.  Every car had received one:

I am God.  Today I will be handling all of your problems.  Please remember that I do not need your help.  If life happens to deliver a situation to you which you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it.  Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box.  All situations will be resolved, but in MY time, not yours.  Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it.  Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life right now.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic.  Don’t despair.  There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.  Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what life is all about, asking what is my purpose?  Be thankful. There are others who didn’t live long enough to get the opportunity.  Should you find yourself the victim of other peoples bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities – remember, things could be worse.  You could be one of them!

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.  Rough-hew them how we will. – Shakespeare, Hamlet

Fr. Michael McGirr, S.J., Finding God’s Traces

May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from undue attachment to all that is under heaven; grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. (St. Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“On our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life; we desire and choose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which God created us.”  - St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all!  He gave his Son – will he not also freely give us all things?  Who will accuse God’s chosen people?  God himself declares them not guilty!  Who, then, will condemn them?  Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us!  Who, then can separate us from the love of Christ?  Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?

No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!  For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love; neither death not life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above or below – there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

Romans 8:31-39

 

 

 

 

What is your view for today
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

St. Anthony of Egypt

(251-356)

Today’s feast day saint goes way back:  St. Anthony of Egypt died at the age of 105 in 356.  By many, he is seen as the ideal Christian.  His parents passed when he was eighteen; they left him responsible for a considerable estate as well as care for his younger sister.  Soon after their death he heard the gospel text in which Jesus instructs the rich young man, “Go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  He immediately sold his possessions and donated the proceeds to the poor, keeping only what he needed for himself and his sister.  Later he heard the gospel verse, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”  After settling his sister in a safe home, he gave the rest away and headed for an ascetic life in the desert. 

Living in small caves and huts, he divided his days between prayer, study, and work in a small garden.  He maintained utter equilibrium in his life.  Despite the rigors of living a solitary life in the desert, his health remained vigorous and his mind unclouded.  Although tempted many times, he was able to totally trust in God’s love.  He spent twenty years of solitude in the desert, he was a picture of health (“not a single tooth was missing!”), but his face was illuminated by compassion and joy.

Eventually many people followed him to the desert to learn his spirituality and his balanced life in the love of God.  He is considered today the originator of the monastery system.

Lord, like St. Anthony of Egypt, may we be loyal to our faith in Christ.  May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess. May our love bring others to Your love. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Possibilities within the Gray

When I think of gray I think of gloom, of low clouds and cold and rain.  Perhaps we get what we expect, and I need to adjust my expectations.  Perhaps the presence of gray can invite us into solitude to reflect, offering time and space for a good book a life-giving conversation.  Perhaps it can open the gateway to a whole spectrum of subtle colors that we never expected to find hiding in the gray.  Everyday life can feel gray for months at a time, especially in winter season.  But what if that drab exterior holds a wealth of unknown possibilities within it?  A kind word resonates gently through our day.  A time of reflection draws us into deeper reaches of ourselves.  A good book opens up vistas invisible in the brighter light.

Margaret Silf, Daily Inspirations

 

 

Hello, Thank you, I Love you
Friday, January 13, 2017

The Importance of Noticing How the Lord Loves and Cares for Us

Of all the sins possible, Ignatius seemed to detest the sin of ingratitude the most. He writes, in a letter of March 18, 1542:

It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness, though others may think differently, that ingratitude is one of

the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, and before all creatures capable of his divine and

everlasting glory, out of all the evils and sins which can be imagined. For it is a failure to recognize the good things,

the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins. On the contrary,

recognition and gratitude for the good things and gifts received is greatly loved and esteemed both in heaven and

on earth.

Perhaps God doesn’t necessarily want us always to be saying “thank you” so much as to be noticing how much we are loved and cared for by Him and, in turn, to respond by living a life of gratitude. Grateful people tend to be more generous and magnanimous with others.

Every school day at St. John’s Jesuit we stop at the beginning of the day to pray as a community.  However, we stop again at the end of the day to pray St. Ignatius’ Examen Prayer.  This is a prayer rooted in Ignatius’ retreat, The Spiritual Exercises.  It is a short prayer – about four minutes.  All students and faculty/staff are requested to stop what they doing – classroom teachers will many times shut off the lights in the classroom and allow students to put their heads on their desks.  In the prayer our community is ask to specifically think about one or two things that they are grateful to God for this day.  This prayer is meant to be a short retreat within the workday; it has as its goal to create an “attitude of gratitude” for God’s love.  St. Ignatius recommended that all people do this exercise daily.

Fr. Brian Lehane, S.J. (Fr. Lehane works at University of Detroit Jesuit High School; he worked for many years at St. John’s Jesuit.)

Pray for the peaceful passing to her loving Lord of Mary Lou Fox, great friend of St. John’s Jesuit.  She had children and grandchildren attend SJJ.  Along with Fr. Donald Vettese, S.J., she founded our nationally copied 20/20 Program for economically disadvantaged students.  She funded our music technology center. St. John’s Jesuit has lost an important friend.  Pray for the families involved. Pray for our sophomores on the last day of their Sophomore Manresa Retreat.  At each beat of my heart I want you Lord to renew my offerings of love to you an infinite number of times, until the shadows of my life have disappeared and I can tell you of my love face to face in eternity (St. Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897) St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Our world is ruled by diabolic powers that divide and destroy.  In and through the powerless Jesus, God disarmed these powers.  However, this mystery confronts us with a new and very hard question: How do we live in this world as witnesses to a powerless God and build the kingdom of love and peace? 

Does powerlessness mean that we are doomed to be doormats for our power-hungry society?  Does it mean that it is good to be soft, passive, subservient – always allowing the power of darkness to dominate our lives?

A theology of weakness challenges us to look at weakness not as a worldly weakness that allows us to be manipulated by the powerful in society and church, but as a total and unconditional dependence of God that opens us to be true channels of the divine power that heals the wounds of humanity and renews the face of the earth.  The theology of weakness claims power, God’s power, the all-transforming power of love.

Finding My Way Home, Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

Where will our Journey take us
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Brother Lawrence

Carmelite Lay Brother (1611-1691)

 “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess god in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knew at the Blessed Sacrament.”  Brother Lawrence

 Brother Lawrence spent forty years in a Carmelite monastery kitchen, and there he died at the age of eighty.  He accomplished no great deeds and left no writings beyond a handful of letters.  He is very much one of those anonymous saints of everyday life who, for all we know, are secretly at work redeeming the world.  He made no distinction between great works and small.  He liked to observe: “God regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” 

 The most significant spiritual event in his early life occurred outdoors on a cold midwinter day in the presence of a gaunt and leafless tree.  The thought that in a little time the bare branches of this tree would again be covered with leaves filled him with “a high view of the providence and power of God.”  Eventually he found his way to the Carmelites in Paris, where he was admitted as a lay brother.

All Saints, Robert Ellsberg

 Two groups of our sophomores will begin their yearly retreat today.  It is called the Manresa Sophomore Retreat – Manresa is the place where St. Ignatius had his life-changing, powerful experience of a loving God.  Pray that our sophomores can have this same experience, commensurate to where they are in life.  Pray also for the two student, faculty, staff retreat teams. The retreat ends Friday afternoon. God bless our year giving us time for the task, peace for the pathway, wisdom for the fireside, love to the last. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 The Path of Living and Dying

 We, like Jesus, are on a journey, living to make our lives abundantly fruitful through our leaving.  Knowing this experience allows me to live from the deep belief that I have love to offer to people, not only here, but also beyond my short, little life.  I am a human being who was loved by God before I was born and whom God will love after I die.  This brief lifetime is my opportunity to receive love, deepen love, grow in love, and give love.  When I die love continues to be active, and from full communion with God I am present by love to those I leave behind.

Finding My Way Home, Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen (There is a group of SJJ faculty/staff that are reading and discussing this book together.  It is well worth the read.)

 

To Feast or Famine
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Servant of God Paul Ginhac, S.J.

1824-1895

 On this day Fr. Paul Ginhac, S.J. knew that he was near death.  He blessed the Jesuit community he lived in from his sick bed, bade them goodbye, and patiently waited for the end to come.  He gave his soul to God in return for all the love that God had given him, he was seventy-two years old and had been a Jesuit for fifty-two years. 

 Master of Novices, and Superior of the Tertian Fathers, in the novitiates of the Society of Jesus for forty years, Father Ginhac had few opportunities of attracting the attention of a world which is quickly won by the charm of holiness. He died as he lived, generously fighting the hard battle of self-conquest to the end, but practically un- known even in his native land of France, except to the numerous communities of priests and nuns whom the silent preaching of his example had urged along the path of perfection more powerfully than his burning words.

 In 1894, whilst giving a retreat to the Carmelite sisters in Paris, an old wound in Fr Ginhac’s leg opened and caused him much pain. He continued with the retreats he had scheduled for the summer and his wound became worse. When the infirmarian suggested that he go to bed to rest his wound, he would not hear of it. After Christmas, he caught a cold and one of his lungs became congested. When he developed a fever and a rash of large spots on his body, he had to be confined to bed but because of the intolerable itching, he was unable to sleep. Throughout his sufferings, he repeated: “May God be praised!” He passed to his loving Lord soon after. 

  Ordinary Time begins today in the Church –the Christmas season is over. Through the centuries the Catholic Church has developed a unique method for annually re-presenting in a vital way the entire life of Jesus Christ. Known as the Church Year, it celebrates various events related to the Savior on certain specified Sundays and other days of the year. The central feast is Easter Sunday. The Church relives on this day Jesus’ Resurrection, his victory over the powers of evil, darkness and death.  Our prayers are requested for Brad Leidel ‘84, his mother, Sandra passed away in Toledo on January 2, 2017.  She was 72 and a pioneer of Toledo’s real estate industry.  May she rest in peace with her loving Lord.  Lord, as the years change, may we find rest in your eternal changelessness.  Help us to meet this new year bravely, in the faith that, while life changes all around us, you are always the same guiding us with wisdom and protecting us with your love.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 What’s On Your Mind?

 Life is a banquet.  And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death. That’s what I’m really talking about.  There’s a nice story about some people who were on a raft off the coast of Brazil perishing from thirst.  They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water.  The river was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right where they were. But they had no idea. In the same way, we’re surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love.  Most people have no idea of this whatsoever.  The reason:  they brainwashed.  The reasons: They’re hypnotized; they’re asleep. 

 The answer it repent – wake up!  Don’t weep for your sins.  Why weep for sins that you committed when you were asleep?  Put on the mind of God, a new mind.  Take a new way of looking at things!  For “the kingdom is here!”  Life is a banquet!  God is pure love.

Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

 

I AM with you
Thursday, January 05, 2017

St. John Neumann (1811-1860)

John Neumann was the first American bishop and the only male U.S. citizen to be canonized.  Neumann came from Bohemia to serve as a missionary to the Catholics of upstate New York.  Eventually he joined the Redemptorist Order and continued his pastoral work among the growing Catholic population on the East Coast.  In 1852 he was appointed the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia, and for eight years tirelessly labored to build up the Church there for its growing Catholic population. He was known for his piety, frugality, and linguistic ability in mastering the languages of the various ethnic Catholic groups that inhabited his diocese  He also saw the value of Catholic education.  When he arrived, Philadelphia had two Catholic schools; within eight years, Neumann had established 198 more.  Neumann is credited with organizing the first diocesan school system.

Neumann died of a stroke at age 48.  He was declared a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1977.  Neumann University, in Pennsylvania, is named for him.

Chuck Mira, the father of alum Chaz Mira, suffered a cardiac arrest the day after Christmas.  He is in critical condition, and his family asks for our prayers. Grant Lord, to all who study and those who teach them, the grace to love that which is worth loving, to know that which is worth knowing, to value what is most precious to you, and to reject whatever is evil in your eyes. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Only the Poor Can Meet the Child Who Became Poor For Us

In order to pray to God the first step is to understand who we are, and that is awfully difficult.  We must acknowledge that we are creatures, saved sinners, entirely dependent upon God.  We must be, as the Bible says, anawim,  the poor people of Yahweh, the poor people of the beatitudes who know that they depend on God.  We must face ourselves and realize that we cannot exist on our own, that we are dependent.

To the proud, this is anathema.  We look at ourselves and we say, “I depend on no one” – and suddenly, in the very saying, we realize that we do.  This is the beginning of prayer: that we become beggars before God, knowing the even the steps we take are given to us by God. 

To begin to pray is to first cleanse our souls of arrogance and pride.  In grave humility and as beggars, we come to him who alone can make us princes and kings and queens, not of earthly kingdoms, but of the kingdom of God.  When we are thus poor and realize our total poverty, then we can go to Bethlehem and meet the Child who became poor for us. 

Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985) was a Russian-born aristocrat who has recently been proposed for canonization. 

 

 

To be deeply moved.....
Wednesday, January 04, 2017

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821)

The success of the Catholic educational system in the United States is well-known.  Generations of Catholics have benefited from the service and sacrifice of countless women and men who developed a system of schools that has helped millions of immigrants and native born Catholics advance in faith and society.  Today the Church celebrates one such pioneer.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized a saint.  Born to an Episcopalian family in New York, Elizabeth was raised to be especially concerned for the poor.  At 19 she married William Seton, a wealthy New York businessman and importer, who would later fall on hard financial times and fall into bankruptcy.  When William died during a family trip to Italy in 1803, Elizabeth was left a young widow with five children to raise.

Elizabeth was deeply moved by the sincere Catholic practice of a devout Italian family that cared for her and her family in Italy after her husband's death.  When she returned to New York, she asked to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, a decision that led some of her New York friends to shun her.  Now destitute, Elizabeth opened a school for girls to help support herself and her children.  Eventually she'd be invited to open schools in Baltimore and throughout the East Coast.  Mother Seton, as she became known, is credited with starting the parochial Catholic school system in the United States.  To assist her, she founded a Congregation of Women Religious, the Sisters of Charity.  Several daughter Congregations developed from Mother Seton's original foundation.

Mother Seton died in her mid-forties, but left behind a growing parochial school system and flourishing Congregation of Sisters dedicated to educating children.  She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975, the first native-born citizen of the United States to be so honored. 


Please pray for the peaceful passing of my niece’s father-in-law, Robert Barclay to his loving Lord.  He had been battling cancer and died from complications of this disease.  Special prayers for his family. Also, pray for the peaceful passing of Linda Kruse to her loving Lord.  She passed to God on Christmas day.  She is mother to Jim ’71, Andy ’98, and Pete ’01.  God, we pray for our high schools and universities, especially St. John’s Jesuit.  Help us to value the experience of studying for its own sake.  Bless our life together as a learning and teaching community, and make us wise but not cunning, perceptive but not cynical and generous in a world where greed and ruthlessness often prevail. For Catholic schools in the United States, and for all who support Catholic education by the labor, contributions, and prayers.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 


 "Song of the Builders"
 

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God--

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building our universe.

 

God be with you
Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Most Holy Name of Jesus.  Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus

 On the eighth day after His birth in Bethlehem, the Child, according to Luke 2:21, was circumcised and given the name Jesus.  Since the Society of Jesus also bears the same holy name it regards this feast day, the day of Jesus’ circumcision, as its most important feast.

 St. Ignatius Loyola and his companions were not always known as the Society of Jesus; in fact, they only chose this name after several years of close companionship and much prayer.  Between the years 1530 and 1535, when Ignatius recruited his first companions in Paris, his group was without a name. 

 Ignatius and his companions met in 1537 in Vicenza in order to decide the direct of the group.  One of the questions they discussed was, When anyone shall ask us who we are, what name shall we give them?  Ignatius suggested prayer before they made a decision.  After prayer, they agreed that no one was their head, but Jesus, and since it was Jesus that they wished to serve, they ought to carry His name; thus they choose the Society of Jesus.  They lived and worked solely for Jesus and wanted to be known by the name that was above all other names.

 Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph Tylenda, S.J.

 Lord God, you gave the name of Jesus to your eternal Word, born of your handmaid, the Virgin Mary.  Open our minds and hearts to receive in our own day the world you speak to us in your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. On this special day of the Society of Jesus, we pray for the Jesuits at St. John’s Jesuit: Fr. Jeff Putthoff, S.J., Fr. Thomas Doyle, S.J., and Fr. David Watson, S.J., and for all Jesuits who serve the Lord by serving mankind.  Pray for our students who will begin the second semester today.  Pray especially for our seniors as they begin the last semester of their time at SJJ.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us. St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 A New Year’s resolution:  Simply be with God day-to-day and know, by this act of faith, we are helping to transform our chaotic world.  God will bless us as we go!

 The message of Christmas is simple: God is with us. “You shall call him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’”  So says the angel to a bewildered Joseph, who must have spent the rest of his life pondering the implications of that statement.

 If God is with us in this radical way, what is our response?  Are we with God?  What does it mean for us, to be with God?  Is it impossible for ordinary folk?  Do I want to be face-to-face with God?

 Of these questions two things can be discerned:  first, how simple it is to be with God, and second, the world-changing power of being with God. 

 What about a New Year resolution:  that we would step out confidently into our chaotic world with the firm belief that by simply being with God we are helping to transform it.  God, who sees our hearts, will bless us as we go!

Irish Jesuits

 

Open up our hearts
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Yule Log: Light Over Darkness

 It can be very peaceful to sit in front of a burning fireplace during Advent and Christmas, or even to have a yule fire projected on the TV.  The yule log has to do with the winter solstice, which comes every year about this date.  “Solstice” comes from two Latin words which mean “the sun stands still.”  After moving away from the Earth for six months, the sun seems to stop briefly and then begin its return.

 No one is sure where the world “yule” comes from.  Some say it has its origins in an old Germanic word that meant a turning wheel and was applied to the supposed orbit of the sun.  Others say it is from an Anglo-Saxon word (“geol”) which means feast.

 What is  known is that the yule feast is pre-Christian, celebrating the victory of the sun god over darkness.  People hauled a log from one of their largest trees and burned it to honor their gods and to bring good luck in the coming year.

 Holly was part of this.  It was placed under the yule log to help kindle the fire.  People would also toss a sprig of holly into the fire to burn up the troubles of the past year and to keep their houses safe from fire in the New Year.

The Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas, Fr. Kenneth Untener

 Semester exams are over, the halls are quiet, students and faculty have left for Christmas break.  Pray for a safe and blessed Christmas and New Year for all.  O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 The Birthday Feast; We Matter!

 Christmas is a birthday.  We survive the drabness of daily life by looking forward to the bright spots, when things are special – the light at the end of the tunnel.  Advent is the tunnel, and it used to have its share of fasting and repentance, sharpening the contrast between anticipation and the event.

 Samuel Beckett was waiting for Godot – who never arrives.  Is God different?  Does he come? In Innsbruck, they reenact the arrival, putting a live baby and mother on a sleigh drawn through he lighted town.  That is lovey, but imaginary.  The real arrival is partly in our hearts, partly in our Eucharist.  True, that happens more than once a year.  But on this feast, as on a birthday, we celebrate that Bethlehem event which showed (as birthday presents show) that we are the children God wanted, that we matter to God.

Sacred Space, the Irish Jesuits

 

Understand that I am here with you
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mary Understands!

 In these days surrounding Christmas we often think of those who have died  if someone close to us has died during the past year, we thin, “this is the first Christmas without them.”  But even if loved ones died long ago, we remember them in  special way at Christmas.

 We also think of our childhood, of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning as a youngster with our family.  We would do well to think of Mary and Jesus together on the great Jewish feasts after Joseph had died.  They would have remembered how they used to celebrate those wonderful days with him.  On those days Mary surely missed her husband, whom she loved.  And Jesus surely missed his father, whom he loved.

 On Christmas we can also think of Mary in the years after Jesus died.  We don’t know the date he was born, but Mary did, and she remembered it.  She was probably in her late 40’s when he died and each year afterward she celebrated his birthday without her husband, and without her son.

 Whomever you miss at Christmas…talk to Mary.  She understands.

The Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas, Fr. Kenneth Untener

 Pray for our students on the last day of their semester exams.  O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness! Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 Shipwrecked at the Stable

 Is there anyone in our midst who pretends to understand the awesome love in the heart of the Father of Jesus that inspired, motivated and brought about Christmas?  The shipwrecked at the stable kneel in the presence of mystery. God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability and need.  On a ordinary night in an obscure stable, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to him.

 We all know how difficult it is to receive anything from someone who has all the answers, who is completely cool, utterly unafraid, needing nothing and in control of every situation.  We feel unnecessary, unrelated to this paragon.  So God comes as a newborn baby, giving us a chance to love him, making us feel that we have something to give him.

 The Bethlehem mystery will ever be a scandal to aspiring disciples who seek a triumphant Savior and a prosperity Gospel.  The infant Jesus was born in unimpressive circumstances.  His parents were of no social significance whatsoever, and his chosen welcoming committee were dirt poor shepherds with no social status.  But in this weakness and poverty the shipwrecked at the stable would come to know the love of God.  

 The shipwrecked at the stable are the poor in spirit who feel lost in the cosmos, adrift on an open sea, clinging with a life-and-death desperation to the one solitary plank.  At the stable in a blinding moment of truth, they make the stunning discovery that Jesus is the plank of salvation they have been clinging to without know it!

Brennan Manning

 

Joyful, Joyful- Lord, we adore thee
Monday, December 19, 2016

O Emmanuel, Come

 The countdown to the birth of Jesus has come.  Since the ninth century the Church has begun this countdown with the “Great O Antiphons” (called “O” because each begins with the acclamation “O”).   These antiphons (prefixes to and following a Psalm or Psalms) signal the shift from the theme of Advent to the birth of Jesus – they begin on December 17th  and continue to December 23.  The structure and content of these antiphons proclaim a fundamental truth: We are called to live our lives now in the practical hope of Christ’s second, definitive coming, the promise which began in the Lord’s first coming at Jesus’ birth.  Of course, we know that Jesus has already been born, but as individuals and as a world we are called to a “subjective”  and “external” change which only Christ can fully give.  We must daily strive for Christ’s peace in our hearts and our actions; the world itself is called by the Lord to accept the peace that only the He can grant.  That peace is wholeness, healing of self and relationships, deep happiness, hope, and love. 

 Also, on this day in 1843 Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carolwas published.  At this time he was struggling with money issues and the impending birth of his fifth child; as he was walking through the streets of London, he was depressed by the poverty, beggars, pickpockets, and streetwalkers.  He was inspired to write this famous book, which he wrote in six weeks.

 Today is the second day of final semester exams for our students; tonight Labre number 219 will bring food and friendship to some of the poorest of this area. Many of our students will be with the group tonight living the love of Christ. O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us. Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 Ye are the light of the world.

 Remember that the child Jesus will eventually have a woman of the streets for his faithful friend and two thieves for his comrades at the end: and looking at these two extremes let us try to learn a little of the height and breadth and depth of his love – and then apply it to our own lives.

 Beholding the glory of Jesus’ birth is only half our job.  In our souls too the mysteries must be brought forth; we are not really Christians till that has been done.  “The Eternal Birth, says Eckhart, “must take place in you.”  And another mystic says human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice; animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet.  And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born and in their very manger he must be laid – and they will be the first to fall on their knees before him.  Sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ in his simple poverty, self-abandoned to God.

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) was a great English mystic.

 

Sing Glory to God
Friday, December 16, 2016

“Ode to Joy”

 Although “Ode to Joy” (“Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee) is popularly associated with Ludwig von Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the lyrics are based on a poem written by German playwright, Friedrich Schiller.

 Beethoven was born on this day in 1779.  Although he was not a practicing Catholic, he wrote two Masses, and received the last sacraments prior to his death.

 During World War I, a group of German prisoners-of-war in Japan surprised their captors by staging the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Japanese soil.  After the war many German prisoners remained in Japan; after they left Japan the Japanese began playing the Ninth Symphony in their memory. 

 The traditional singing of “Ode to Joy” during December soon spread throughout Japan.

Father Kenneth Untener, The Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas

SJJ sophomore, Peter Williams is in Toledo Children’s Hospital battling cancer. Keep Peter in your prayers; this is especially a tough time for him as our students begin exams today.  Pray for our students taking semester exams today.  Saturday at 10am in the St. John’s Jesuit chapel there will be a memorial Mass for Fr. Theodore Walters, S.J. and Brother John Sebian, S.J.  Both passed away recently: Fr. Walters was our president from 1982 to 1992.  Brother Sebian served at SJJ beginning one year before our second opening in 1965 until 2009.  Both have left lasting legacies. All are invited to attend this 10 am Mass this Saturday. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. (Luke 1:67-68) St. John Berchmans, pray for us. St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 Concerning the Light

 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. (John 1:4-5)

 What is darkness which comprehendeth not the light?  Is it not man in the unregenerated state?  “Ye were darkness,” saith the apostle, speaking concerning them as they had been in that state.

 Now it pleaseth the Lord, that in this darkness his pure light should shine, to gather man out of the darkness.  For unless light should shine on man in his dark state, he could never be gathered out of it; but he that is turned to the light, and followeth it, cannot abide in the darkness; but cometh into that which gathereth and preserveth the mind out of it.  It is the life of Jesus Christ, of Word eternal, which is the light of men.  And he who cometh to the true understanding, may thereby distinguish it from all other lights whatsoever.

Isaac Pennington

 

 

Hope
Thursday, December 15, 2016

God in strange and uncomfortable places!

Throughout this month we will gather with family and friends. Our focus will tend to be on the meals, gifts, and customs of the season. But the people with whom we gather will bring with them their own issues, and many of them will be difficult.

Sickness, hurt, economic hardship, or grief may well be gathered in our homes. God is calling us to be attentive to such burdens. Jesus’ birth came within some unusual circumstances: Mary’s inexplicable pregnancy, and Joseph’s struggle to deal with it. Mary and Joseph must travel to Jerusalem for a census, while she is her ninth month of pregnancy; and, of course, the birth which happens in a barn.

When we face disruptions in life, we yearn for “things to get back to normal.” We want to return to the way things were. We endure the medical treatment, survive the divorce, outlive the rejection. But as we seek to return to the place we were forced to leave, we discover that time has passed. People are missing. We have changed. Things may in time return to a set routine, but not to the routine we once knew.

Like Joseph we must trust that God will be found in strange and uncomfortable places. Even when circumstances are new and difficult, we must trust they are part of God’s plan. But God can be found in new places. When God is with us, we can always find a home.
Fr. George Smiga, STD, “Finding God in the Margins of Life”, Living With Chris

 Please pray for Buck Welling, father of SJJ longtime faculty member, Butch Welling.  Mr. Welling continues to fight a serious illness and is undergoing other complications. Today is the last day of classes at SJJ; tomorrow begins final first semester exams.  There is much anticipation of Christmas break and final exams.  Pray for our students in the days ahead. Father, creator and redeemer of mankind, you decreed, and your Word became man, born of the Virgin Mary. May we come to share the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share our human nature. May we look for him in whatever place we find ourselves this Christmas.  Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us

Trust That Something Will Happen

I have found it very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. It was only when I was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations, could happen to me. Just imagine what Mary was actually saying in the words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me” (Luke 1:38). She was saying, “I don’t know what this all means, but I trust that good things will happen.” She trusted so deeply that her waiting was open to all possibilities. And she did not want to control them. She believed that when she listened carefully, she could trust what was going to happen.

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is trusting that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving control over our future and letting God define our life. – Fr. Henri Nouwen

see God in all things
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

It is difficult to read the life of today’s honored Saint John of the Cross without wincing at the cruelties inflected by his brothers in Christ.  And yet in the midst of his ordeal, one can imagine a secret smile on John’s face, undetected by his enemies. They could not suspect that by their petty persecutions they were only hastening the saint’s reunion with his Beloved. 

St. John of the Cross has been acclaimed as one of the church’s great mystics – indeed, a genius of mystical theology.  For this he was not merely canonized but proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.  In light of this solid  recognition, it is important to recall that such approval came only after his death.  In life, his spiritual insights were forged in the experience of persecution and suffering, trials not simply by his own church but by the member of his own house. 

Of the prominent religious orders in Spain, the Carmelites were known for their special commitment to interior prayer and the spiritual life.  But by John's day they had become lax and complacent.  Spiritual innovation was a dangerous matter in sixteenth-century Spain.  This was the era of the notorious Spanish Inquisition.  Much of John’s greatest  opposition came from the traditional wing of his order.  Because of his attempts to reform his own order, be was kidnapped by brother Carmelites, put into a cell, sustained only by bread and water.  He was taken out regularly to be beaten and abused. Finally, at a point close to death, he managed to make a most miraculous escape by dark of night.  – All Saints, Robert Ellsberg

 Pray for our students and faculty members as they prepare for final exams beginning this Friday.  Lo, in the silent night a child to God is born and all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.  Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night!  God would be born in thee and set all things aright. (15th century) Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.  St. John of the Cross, pray for us. Saint John Berchmans pray for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 See God In All Things (St. Ignatius Loyola)

Everything is His.
The door, the door jamb.
The wood stacked near the door.
The leaves blown upon the path
   that leads to the door.
The trees that are dropping their leaves
   the wind that is tripping them this way and that way,
the clouds that are high above them,
the stars that are sleeping now beyond the clouds

and, simply said, all the rest.

When I open the door I am so sure so sure
   all this will be there, and it is.
I look around.
I fill my arms with the firewood.
I turn and enter His house and close His door. – Mary Oliver

 

Santa Lucia
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

St. Lucy

Today the Church honors one of the early virgin martyrs, St. Lucy, or "Santa Lucia" as she is known in the song.  Versions of her life appear as early as the sixth century, and she was especially popular in the Middle Ages.  She is prominently featured in Dante's The Divine Comedy.  Lucy was martyred in 304 AD after a disappointed pagan suitor denounced her as a Christian during the Diocletian Persecution.  Lucy wanted to remain a chaste virgin, the "white martyrdom" practiced by others in the early Church, and paid dearly for her decision.   She lost her dowry and, eventually, her life.

Versions of her martyrdom differ in some of the details.  In one version, the Roman guards are unable to move her body or to burn her, so they settle for plucking out her eyes.  (She is pictured sometimes holding a dish with her eyes on it.)  Because of this, she is considered a patron saint of the blind or those with vision difficulties.  Her name, Lucy, is related to the Latin for light, "lux," so frequently themes of light and darkness play in the iconography used to portray her.

Her feast day is celebrated during the darkest time of the year.  The custom in Scandinavian countries is to have young girls dress as Lucy, wearing wreathes of lit candles on their heads.  Lucy reminds us of the importance of making our Christian witness visible in an often dark world.


Lord in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of you love and our minds are searching for the light of the Word.  Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence.  St. Lucy, pray for us.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 
"Our Deepest Fear"
 Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:  "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"

Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

 

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
Monday, December 12, 2016

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Patroness of the Americas

Today the Church celebrates Mary under the title of "Our Lady of Guadalupe."  This is a devotion especially important to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The story of Mary's appearance goes like this:  in 1531, a 57-year-old widower named Juan Diego had a vision of a young Native American dressed like an Aztec princess near a hill outside Mexico City called Tepeyac.  Surprisingly, the lady spoke to him in his native language and sent him to the bishop to request that a shrine be built in her honor at the site of the apparition.  As proof of her authenticity, a sign was given:  Juan opened his "tilma" or cloak to reveal the imprint of an image of Mary as she appeared at Tepeyac.  The bishop sank to his knees and soon after would begin the process of building the great basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mary under the title of Guadalupe has become the central religious image in Mexican spirituality.  She represents inclusion in that her native dress, ethnicity, and language were all that of the Mexican people.  Her image was the first religious depiction in which they could see themselves and their culture, and, by seeing themselves represented in Mary's depiction, they felt a welcome part of the Christian story.  Christianity would no longer be a European export but would become part of the very fabric of Mexican culture itself.

This image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in several spots at St. John’s Jesuit.


"Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright of heart!"(Psalm 32:11) Yesterday was Gaudete Sunday, this is the time of Advent where we rejoice at the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Lord, help us to make our hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7) Pray for the Church in Mexico; for Mexican-Americans; for greater respect for those of cultural difference.  Our prayers are requested at the passing to his loving Lord of former SJJ faculty member Dick Nagel on December 8th.  Dick served at SJJ in the 1980s.  I remember Dick as a good, kind person with a quick smile.  Pray for his wife Bonnie, and his family.  Please pray for Greg Harkness, a member of the Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Rockhurst is in our Jesuit network. Mr. Harkness is very ill in the hospital with a cerebral aneurysm.  Our Lady, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 


Message of Mary to the Mexican people:
 
"Am I not here who am your mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life? 
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms? 
Is there anything else that you need? 
Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain."

 

Hail, full of grace
Thursday, December 08, 2016

 

THE SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

‎Who is the patron saint of the United States?  Ireland has its Patrick, Germany, its Boniface, and France, its St. Denis.  But who do we as Catholics of the United States honor as patron, or, in this case, patroness?  Today the Church celebrates a Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.  Mary, under this title, is the patroness of the United States of America. Today, there will be an Immaculate Conception Mass celebrated by the SJJ community.


The title does not refer to Mary's conception of Jesus in her womb, as is often mistakenly believed.  Rather, it refers to what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary's own conception:  from the first moment of her existence in the womb of her mother St. Anne, Mary was kept free from Original Sin.  This singular grace was accorded her, not because of her own merit, but because she was chosen to be the vessel from whom would come the Son of God.

When God entrusts disciples with an important mission, He empowers them with the grace necessary to accomplish that mission.  Mary was no exception.  Kept free by grace from the corrupting influence of sin, she was able to respond selflessly to her mission to be the Mother of God.  When the angel Gabriel first greeted Mary at the Annunciation, his first words recognized her singular holiness:  "Hail, full of grace." 

 

 

 

"Rise up, Jerusalem, stand on the heights, and see the joy that is coming to you from God."
(Baruch 5:5-6). Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us.

 A Special Woman

God we thank you
that you made yourself known
to someone without power, wealth or status;
and we praise you
for the courage of Mary,
this young woman from Galilee,
whose Yes to the shame and shock
of bearing your Son
let loose the unstoppable power of love
which changed the world.
A.A.

Come to me; for I will Come to you
Wednesday, December 07, 2016

St. Charles Garnier, S.J.

1606-1649

Martyr of North America

 In the 17th century French exploration and colonization in North America followed the vast waterways from the Atlantic to Quebec to the Great Lakes.  “Black-robed” Jesuits went far in advance of colonists bearing Good News to the native peoples and living among them.

 On this day in 1649 Fr. Charles Garnier, S.J. was making his customary rounds of the Petun Indian village near Quebec.  He heard the shout “Iroquois, Iroquois” ring through the village.  The Iroquois were on the warpath and had threatened to burn down all Petun villages during the winter.  The attackers slashed down men, women, and children.  Fr. Garnier rushed through the village encouraging others to flee.  He was about to enter a burning cabin to minister to those within when a bullet penetrated his breast and another his abdomen.  As he fell to the ground an Iroquois warrior tore off his cassock; later another warrior scalped him, then plunged a tomahawk in his head. 

 Fr. Garnier in his missionary efforts had founded two missions among the Petuns.  He built a chapel and baptized 184 Indians.  As all Jesuit martyrs of North American, he learned the Indian language, taught them how to grow crops, and ministered to their sick.  He was canonized on June 29th in 1930.

“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

  Lord, every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent.  Every year we pray beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise.  In all our needs and yearnings, Lord, we pray one word: “Come!” St. Charles Garnier, S.J., pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 The Divine Dawning

 Light of lights! All gloom dispelling,

Thou didst come to make thy dwelling

Here within our world of sight.

Lord, in pity and in power,

Thou didst in our darkest hour

Rend the clouds and show they light.

 Praise to thee in earth and heaven

Now and evermore be given,

Christ, who art our sun and shield.

Lord, for us they life thou gavest,

Those who trust in thee thou savest,

All thy mercy stands revealed.

St. Thomas Aquinas

 

The gift of Generosity
Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Feast of St. Nicholas

Bishop of Myra (fourth century)

 Little is known of St. Nicholas’ life, except that in the fourth century he was bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey).  He is today patron saint of Russia and Greece, as well as many classes of people, including children, sailors, pawnbrokers, and prostitutes.

 Our awareness of this saint is in giving of gifts to children in his name.  In Holland, and in much of the United States, St. Nicholas delivers presents to deserving children on this day.  St. Nicholas was the hero of several legends involving children, but these were legends of St. Nicholas’ generosity to the poor.  This resulted in the gifts given on his feast day. In one story,  Nicholas rescued three young girls whose father, for want of a dowry, was about to sell them into prostitution. Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through an open window, enough to pay for the dowry.   

 Well does he deserve to be the patron saint of children, and well might they delight in his name.  But he might be remembered not only as the jolly source of toys and treats at Christmastime, but also as the protector of those whose lives and innocence remain threatened today, as they were in his time, by violence, poverty, and exploitation. 

 

The name of St. Nicholas survived, however, though adapted to various languages – “Sinterklaus” in Dutch became “Santa Claus” in English.  It was Clement Moore in the famous poem, “The Night before Christmas,” who equipped him with  sleigh, reindeer, pipe, bag and an entry through the chimney.

The Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas, 2005

Christ our Advent hope, bare brown trees, etched dark across a winter’s sky, leaves fallen, rustling, ground hard and cold, remind us to prepare for your coming; remind us to prepare for the time when the soles of our feet will touch the ground, when you will become one of us to be at one with us. (Kate McIllhagga) St. Nicholas, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 Why is it necessary that God must come to the earth?

 God has to come to us because we, by our own power of soul, by our own emotions, even the noblest and most sublime, can never attain communion with God.  True expectancy, the waiting that is genuine and from the heart, is brought about by the coming of the Holy Spirit, by God coming to us, and not be our own devices.  Spiritual depth is the working of God coming down and penetrating to the depths of our hearts, and not our own soul’s climbing.  Faith is a power given to us.  It is never simply our ability or strength of will to believe.

 In Advent we wait for the coming of the Lord in our lives.  It is a time we awaken and allow God to penetrate the depths of our hearts. – Philip Britts (1917-1949)

 

We are our brother's keeper
Monday, December 05, 2016

At the passing to his loving Lord of Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.

 Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, who guided the order through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history, died on November 26th in Beirut, Lebanon, he had been a Jesuit for 68 years.  He and his predecessor, Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J. were very different but had a common commitment to the Jesuit belief in “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice.”

 To students of SJJ and all Jesuit high schools, Fr. Kolvenbach is well known for following Father Pedro Arrupe’s model of “Men and Women for Others” and “the faith that does justice.”  In 2001, he stated:

 “When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change.  Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity, which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection…(Students) should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose, and act for the right of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.”

 After his election to Superior General of the Society he wrote: “The Lord wished to make use of our Society to announce to men and women of today’s world – with a pastoral preference for those who suffer injustices in this world – the Good News of the Kingdom in a way that speaks to their culture and condition of life.

  A special memorial Mass was celebrated last Friday at the Gesu Church – the Jesuit church in Rome.  Pray for the peaceful passing of the soul of Fr. Kolvenbach, the Society of Jesus, and for all Jesuit high schools, universities, and apostolates at this time.  We give thanks for his leadership and model. Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow human beings throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.  Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and, our understanding love, give peace and joy. (St. Teresa of Calcutta) Fr. Hans-Peter Kolvenbach, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

  St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Principle and Foundation”

 Fr. Kolvnbach entered the Society at age 19.  He said early on, “I discovered a small booklet, which caught my attention.  I opened it and read Ignatius’ foundational principle.  In all the turmoil and disappointment the war (in Beirut, Lebanon) had produced, the vision of Ignatius came like a light.”  Below is what he read:

 “Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and my means of doing this to save their souls.  The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in pursuit of the end for which they are created.

“From this it follows that we ought to use these things to the extent that they help us toward our end, and free ourselves from them to the extent that they hinder us from it.  To attain this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things…Consequently, on our own part, we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all matters.

“Rather, we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created.”

 

Anticipation
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“Advent means a heart that is awake and ready.”

(Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. wrote this from a Nazi prison cell, December 5, 1944)

 Last Sunday’s  Gospel is an interesting start to our Advent season.  “For as the days of Noah are, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be coming of the Son of Man.  Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.  Keep awake therefore, for you do now know on what day our Lord is coming.  But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore you also much be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”  (Matthew 24:37-44)

 The ultimate and deepest meaning of Advent and Christmas is that the created being, man, actually finds himself in the presence of the Absolute Ultimate.  Advent is a feast of waiting for the Coming-of-the-Lord for which we are preparing ourselves; we think about ourselves, from the perspective of ultimate reality and we become ready – really ready – to encounter and respond to Him born into our world. 

 There are tough images here: floods, capture, thieving.  These are frightening, life-changing events.  We have one life, and it is precious and fragile.  We need to be in tune with Jesus constantly, ready for whatever comes our way, not sleepwalking through life.” (Sacred Space, the Prayer Book, 2017)

Over the weekend,  Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach died in Beirut. Fr. Kolvenbach was the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus.  In 1983, he formally replaced Superior General,  Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Fr. Kolvenbach resigned in 2006. This Advent, awaken Your power, we beseech You, O Lord, and come.  Then we will be rescued by Your protections and saving action from the dangers that threaten us because of our lack of faith. (prayer from pre-Vatican II Advent liturgy.) St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Advent a Feast of Hope: A hopeful person cannot continue in anxiety, grasping, needing control, in habitual anger.

The driving dynamic of Advent is hope.  If we had nothing to hope for, there would be no point to this season.  The Christ Child grew to be a man who embodied forgiveness and generosity.  A life of hope sees the good in others, is patient with their shortcomings, and tenaciously envisions them at their best.  No matter what jobs we do or work positions we hold, as hopeful people we maintain fairness and integrity as goals.  We make our work matter for the common good.  Some hopes will shape our character.  Jesus exemplified hope that cultivates interior freedom. A hopeful person cannot continue in anxiety, grasping, needing control, in habitual anger.  How is hope visible in our lives. Where has it faded? – Vinita Hampton Wright



In my first 22 years
Monday, November 28, 2016

St. John Berchmans, S.J.

Extraordinary accomplishments are not required for holiness, only ordinary deeds.

1599-1621

 Last Saturday was an important day for St. John’s Jesuit High School.  November 26th is the feast day of our patron saint, St. John Berchmans, S.J.  If you notice the years above, HE died at a very young age.  It was extraordinary for the Church to honor him with the title Saint after only 22 years on this earth. 

 He died from fever and dysentery: How did he reach this status?  If we look at his last two days on this earth,  we get a clue.  It is clear that he made a tremendous impact on his fellow Jesuits.  The entire Jesuit community came in procession bringing Viaticum to their dying brother.  Everyone was in tears – that is how greatly he was loved and respected – John was calm.  He requested his crucifix, his rosary, and the rule book of the Society of Jesus and said:  “These are the three things most dear to me: with them I willingly die.”  The next day he endured a constant stream of Jesuits and classmates coming to see him for the last time.  Even the Father General of the Society paid him a visit. 

 His last night was sleepless and spent in prayer.  He passed in the morning.  It was the simplicity of John’s life that made him attractive. His rector wrote: “What we universally admired in him was that in all the virtues he showed himself perfect and that, with the aid of divine grace to which he responded to his utmost, he performed all his actions with all the perfection that can be imagined.”

 At this special time, pray for St. John’s Jesuit High School:  our students, faculty and staff, and for success in our mission.  Our prayers are requested at the passing of Richard Holmes to his loving Lord.  Mr. Holmes is brother to SJJ Board of Trustees and alumni parent, Martin Holmes.  Pray for all families involved.  Yesterday the Church lite the first of four candles on the Advent wreath.  God of all hope and joy, open our hearts in welcoming  your Son Jesus Christ this Advent season.  May he find a dwelling place in each of us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 Mary, My Advocate

 Holy Mary, Mother of God, I choose you this day to be my queen, my patroness, and my advocate, and I firmly resolved never to leave you, and never to say or do anything against you, nor ever permit others to do anything against your honor.  Receive me, then, I beg of you, for your servant forever.  Help me in every action and abandon me not at the hour of my death.  Amen.

St. John Berchmans, S.J.

 

Today- Let us give Thanks and be Thankful for each day
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts."
--2 Corinthians 9:15

This is the time of the year for gratitude, especially for the simple gifts of everyday.  Ignatius' ability to find God in all things allowed his eyes to be opened to the ordinary wonders he once took for granted.  God is indeed present and caring for us all the time, even when our attention is elsewhere.

In Thornton Wilder's play OUR TOWN, the deceased Emily Webb discovers she may return to relive any day in her life if she so wishes.  Other spirits of the deceased warn her not to, but she jumps at the chance to relive her twelfth birthday.  But the experience proves too painful for Emily as she comes to realize how unaware people tend to be of the precious yet temporary gift of life.  She says:  

Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You're a grandmother, Mama! Wally's dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it - don't you remember? But, just for a moment now we're all together. Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's really look at one another!...I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover's Corners....Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?


During this time of Thanksgiving, may we be mindful of the precious gift of life and appreciative of those with whom we share it. Eternal Father, through you Spirit delighting in the world, you created us from joy and for joy. We give thanks for life, with all its joys and responsibilities, its experiences and opportunities. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 
"Mindful"
 
Every day
  I see or I hear
    something
      that more or less
 
kills me
  with delight,
    that leaves me
      like a needle
 
in the haystack
  of light.
    It is what I was born for--
      to look, to listen,
 
to lose myself
  inside this soft world--
    to instruct myself
      over and over
 
in joy,
  and acclamation.
    Nor am I talking
      about the exceptional,
 
the fearful, the dreadful,
  the very extravagant--
    but of the ordinary,
      the common, the very drab,
 
the daily presentations.
  Oh, good scholar,
    I say to myself,
      how can you help
 
but grow wise
  with such teachings
    as these--
      the untrimmable light
 
of the world,
  the ocean's shine,
    the prayers that are made
      out of grass?

Mary Oliver
 

 

Who do we choose to know deeply?
Monday, November 21, 2016

Feast of the Presentation of Mary

 Today’s feast day commemorates an event not described in the New Testament.  According to a tradition which dates back to the eighth century, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was three years old, her parents took her to the Temple in Jerusalem and left her there to be educated.  The Temple priest received her with a kiss, saying: “the Lord has magnified thy name in all generations.  In thee, on the last days, the Lord will manifest his redemption to the sons of Israel.”  The priest then set Mary on the third step of the altar, and the Lord sent grace upon her. 

 The presentation of Mary has been a popular subject of artists such as Giotto, Titian, and others.

 Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, we ask you to pray for us that we might ponder in our hearts, just as you did, all the wonderful things that God has done for us.  Help us to understand that through you we might be able to known an intimacy with your Son that, without your help, we cannot even imagine.  Holy Mother Mary, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 Mary, our Mother, pray for us. 

 Mary as mother has had a most intimate relation with Jesus.  She knew him not only in pregnancy, in birth, in nursing, and in rearing, but also in her love and support of his mission, all the way to the cross.  St. Ignatius believed, and asked anyone doing his Spiritual Exercises, that Jesus would have appeared to his mother first after his resurrection.  She becomes the first to know the joy and consolation of a relationship with Jesus at a depth unimaginable.  The risen Jesus penetrated the whole being of Mary.  Mary, the first disciple of the risen One, becomes our teacher, showing us a depth of relationship with Jesus that we could never imagine.

 

Think of Mary at the marriage feast of Cana.  Mary is the one who notices need.  Mary is the one who gives direction.  Mary is the one who shares her intimacy with her Son with us. 

Fr. David Fleming, S.J.

Where does your strength come from?
Thursday, November 17, 2016

St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)

Today is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She was happily married to King Ludwig IV of Thuringia, in southern Germany. It was a match made in her childhood, with Elizabeth moving into the castle of her future husband when he was just nine and she even younger. 

As she grew older she became a pious woman who worked to relieve poverty among her subjects, establishing hospitals and nursing the sick – even lepers – with her own hands.  Her husband supported her in all her good works, and the couple had two children. 

Unfortunately, she put herself in the hands of one Conrad of Marburg.  This priest had been an Inquisitor of heretics and he took a harsh tone with Elizabeth, at times beating her with a stick for minor infractions of his rules.  She bore the hurt stoically, continuing to work with the sick and the poor, while the people’s affection grew for her.

Her husband died while in command of a force of Crusaders headed for the Holy Land.  Her scheming in-laws saw this as an opportunity to toss out the young queen, who was pregnant again.  They charged her with stealing money from royal coffers to give to the poor.  She left the castle penniless and lived the rest of her life in extreme poverty.  Because she was quite taken with the story of St. Francis of Assisi, she became a Franciscan tertiary.  She died at the age of 24. 
The Everything Saints Book, Ruth Rejnis

 Lord, when I am feeling tired and strained help me not to take it out on other people.  Saint John Berchmans pray for us.  Saint Ignatius pray for us. 

 Let us boast of our weaknesses!”

I have been thinking about fatigue lately.  Truer still, I have been experiencing fatigue lately.  You see, that is one of the side effects to my cancer treatment and medicine and it is quite disconcerting not to have the strength and energy I once had.  I have taken this to the Lord in prayer.  It is here I am again reminded of what St. Paul himself experienced and relates when he spoke of the thorn in his flesh.  I imagine each of us has a certain thorn in our flesh of some kind.  Paul prayed as I prayed (and you must pray) that our Lord will remove the thorn or source of pain.  Paul said, “Three times I begged God that he might remove this and each time God said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you; for in weakness, power reaches perfection’.”

It would really be something if we could all come to understand that our greatest strength is nothing compared to this Divine strength that we can rely on when we are weak.  In fact, our weakness is a blessing, but I have come to understand that God’s blessings are often disguised as hardships. 

So, today, let’s boast of our weaknesses.  And the power of Christ will rest upon us more and more.
Fr. Jim Willig (Fr. Willig was a beloved priest in the Cincinnati area; he died from cancer at a young age.)

 

I am a Companion to all who seek Liberty, Justice, and Love
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ignacio Ellacuria and Companions

Jesuit Martyrs of San Salvador (d.1989)

 On this November 16th morning in 1989, news photographers in El Salvador recorded a scene of abomination:  the bodies of six Jesuit priests strewn across the garden lawn of the University of Central America.  Also, the bodies of the housekeeper, Elba Ramos, and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Celina were found lying next to the murdered Jesuits.  They had been awakened from their sleep, led to the rose garden outside, forced to lay down, then shot in the head, one-by-one. 

 For years the Jesuits of the university had been a thorn in the side of the military and the ruling elite.  This was because they consistently  denounced the injustice and repression against the poor of the land.  Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J. had been a very effective and eloquent advocate of national dialogue.  But he was also outspoken in criticizing the injustices endemic to Salvadoran society, and he earned the enmity of the military command with his frequent denunciation of their reign of terror against the poor and the fighters for justice of San Salvador. 

 I remember this day in 1989 at St. John’s Jesuit when news spread around the building that these Jesuits and their companions had been murdered.  It was as if members of our community had been murdered.  It was a day I will never forget.  We had, probably 15 Jesuits at St. John’s Jesuit then, and we were their companions:  We all felt their pain.

 This past weekend a large contingent of SJJ faculty, staff, and students participated in the Ignatian Teach-in for Justice which is held each year on memorial of these martyrs death’s.  Our “inner garden” at St. John’s Jesuit contains a rose garden and the images of the martyred Jesuits and their companions.

All Saints, Daniel Ellsberg

 “What is it to be a companion of Jesus today?  It is to engage, under the standard of the cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.” (Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J.)  Lord, stretch forth your wounded hands in blessing over your people, to heal and restore, and to draw them to yourself and to one another. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 Quotes from Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J.

 Every human being is called to solidarity in a world battling between life and death.

 Do everything possible so that liberty is victorious over oppression, justice over injustice, love over hate.

 

Hear me, Listen with your Heart and Learn to Love all things
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blessed Roch Gonzalez, S.J.

1576-1628

Martyr of River Plate

 Fr. Roch Gonzalez, S.J. arrived at his new mission station in Itapúa, Paraguay on November 1, 1628.  Along with another Jesuit, Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., they erected a cross in the center of the village and within a few days they had baptized three children.  The local witch doctor did not appreciate the influence the missionaries had over his people, nor did he like the doctrine they were preaching. 

 Jealous of their success, he, along with his subordinates, decided to kill all the missionaries in the area.  On this morning in 1628 as Fr. Gonzales was finishing celebrating Mass, he left the chapel and noticed some Indians setting up a bell.  As Fr. Gonzales was leaning over the bell, one subordinate rushed him and with a quick blow of an axe split the priest’s skull.  He fell dead at the assassin’s feet.  When Fr. Rodriquez heard the noise, he came out of the chapel and was immediately murdered.  Their bodies were cast into the chapel and the chapel was set on fire. 

 Fr. Gonzalez was one of the main architects of the Jesuit reductions in Paraguay.  The reductions were settlements offered the local Indians who were hunted down by Portuguese colonists greedy for what they called “red gold,” that is Indian slaves.  On these settlements Indians were taught to plow, sow, and tend the land, and harvest crops.  Fr. Gonzalez founded a Jesuit school on one of these “reductions.” 

 The colonial government officials resented these settlements and the freedom they granted the Indians.  They accused the Jesuits of ruling a state within a state.  This was a key issue which led to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.

“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

 Our prayers are requested for Buck Welling, father of longtime faculty member Butch Welling; he is very ill. Please pray for senior alumnus Harry Dalton ’35 at his recent passing to his loving Lord.  Keep his family in your prayers. Lord, you called your blessed martyrs, Fr. Roch Gonzalez and Alphonsus Rodriquez, to go out from their own country to sow the seed of your word in distant lands.  May it yield a hundredfold in a harvest of justice and peace.  Blessed Roch Gonzalez, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 St. Ignatius Loyola and the “Christian”

 Ignatius once said that at his lowest point before his conversion he had no one to turn to for guidance, so he said that the Lord taught him the way a schoolteacher teaches a little child.  He once declared that even if all the scriptures were destroyed, he would hold on to what they revealed because of what the Lord had taught him personally.

Christian:  I have, unfortunately, had a surfeit of people I could turn to for guidance. They badgered me with their persistent teachings till I could barely hear you through the din.  It never occurred to me that I could get my knowledge firsthand from you, for they sometimes said to me, “We are all the teachers you will ever have; he who listens to us, listens to him.” 

 But I am wrong to blame them or to deplore their presence in my early life.  It is I who am to blame.  For I lacked the firmness to silence them; the courage to find out for myself; the patience to wait for your appointed time; and the trust that someday somewhere, you would break your silence and reveal yourself to me.

The Song of the Bird, Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

 

 

Everlasting Life
Monday, November 14, 2016

St. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J. (1737-1811)

The Suppression of the Society of Jesus

 Fr. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J. was in his seventieth year and he, and his beloved Society of Jesus, had been in exile for forty years.  The Kings of Spain, Portugal, and France – and soon the rest of Europe –  had outlawed the Society within their borders and their colonial empires.  Pope Clement XIII was forced to accept this banishment.  Portugal was the first country to suppress the Society of Jesus in 1759.  After the Jesuits were suppressed by Spain and France, a remnant of the Society survived in Russia.

 Fr. Joseph was very ill; he suffered from hemorrhages and stomach ulcers.  As these symptoms became more acute his pain increased.  He had worked tirelessly to keep the Jesuit order intact;  he still cherished the hope that the suppression would be lifted.  He died on November 15th in 1811, three years before the suppression was lifted.

 For twenty-four years (1773-97) he secretly lived the life of a Jesuit and kept in contact with his dispersed Jesuit brothers.  His noble spirit built a bridge for the Society across the dark valley to a future of new life. He put his all into the service of his brethren.  In 1814, three years after his death, the Society of Jesus was restored by Pope Pius VII.  The Society has thrived ever since; a remarkable feat after 41 years of suppression.

“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

 This past Friday, at an all-school Mass, Fr. Thomas Doyle, S.J. received his final vows in front of our school community.  Fr. Walt Dye, S.J. travelled from Chicago to represent the Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Bryan Paulsen S.J., at this important time in Fr. Doyle’s life Jesuit life. Pray for Fr. Doyle as he continues his ministry as a member of the Society of Jesus.  Keep Fr. Doyle’s brother in your prayers Patrick Doyle, he is very ill.  Lord, when I cry unto you, help me to pray and to think of you only. Saint Joseph Pignatelli, pray for us.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.   

 Perfect Resignation

 My God, I do not know what must come to me today.

But I am certain that nothing can happen to me

that you have not foreseen, decreed,

and ordained from all eternity.

That is sufficient for me.

I adore your impenetrable and eternal designs,

to which I submit with all my heart.

I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice

to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Savior.

I ask in his name and through his infinite merits,

patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission

to all that comes to me by your good pleasure.  Amen

St. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J.

 

A Conversation through Prayer
Thursday, November 03, 2016

This Saturday the Society of Jesus remembers all their Saints and Blesseds. On this day the Society also remembers all Jesuits who have passed from this life, but are not officially recognized as Saints or Blesseds. All Jesuits who have passed to their loving Lord will be remembered for their love of God and humble lives; they have been rewarded by God taking them unto Himself in heaven.

On this day I remember the many Jesuits who have died and have humbly served  St. John’s Jesuit, and all Jesuits I did not know who served at St. John's Jesuit since its beginning in 1898. The Jesuits I remember are Fr. Ron Torina, Fr. John Lasca, Fr. Roman Weltin, Fr. William Hussey, Fr. Pat Hussey, Fr. Henry Birkenhauer, Br.Tom Haddett, Fr. Clayton Shario, Fr. Joseph Scharf, Fr. Charles Sweeney, Fr.Oswald Marshall, and Brother John Sebian.

 Our prayers are requested for Paul Billick, father of SJJ staff person, Julie Fuzinski.  He will have an important biopsy tomorrow. Doctors feel it could be lung cancer or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Former St. John’s Jesuit French teacher and activities director Barbara Wright will be having surgery this Monday, please keep her in your prayers. Pray for our seniors on day three of their Kairos retreat.  The theme for this day is What is Christ’s message for me? Pray in remembrance of all Jesuits who have passed and have brought the love of God into our world. Lord, help us to listen to each other, to be gentle with one another, to forgive each other, and to be willing to laugh at ourselves. Saint John Berchmans pray   for us. Saint Ignatius pray for us.  

 

Prayer for Humility

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud. 

Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.

Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,

most truthful,

and most worthy of your serious  consideration.  Daniel Lord, S.J. (1888-1955)

 

Whom shall I Remember
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

All Souls Day

 

‎ "God, who raised Jesus from the dead, will give new life to our own mortal bodies through His Spirit living in us" (Romans 8:11).

Today on All Souls Day we remember our loved ones that have moved on in their journey with the Lord. This day is a feast for the living.  We are never more alive than when we grieve, however painful the experience may be.  On this day in Mass we are invited to mention by name dead friends and relatives so they can be remembered in prayer by the whole community.
  
Take some time today to remember the loved ones you've lost.  When you have time, pray over what comes to mind as you think about them in light of these prompts, pausing after each one:

1.  These are the images of them that come to mind.....
2.  This is the way they spoke and laughed.....
3.  Here was the moment we first met....
4   These are some of the times with them I treasure most....
5.  This is what I willingly forgive....
6.  These are my conversations with them that really mattered....
7.  This is how they were a gift to me......

 

Sunday, the feast day of St. Alphonsus Rodriquez, S.J., patron saint of Jesuit brothers, Brother John Sebian passed from this world to his loving Lord.  We give thanks for his life and prayers for his peaceful passing and for his family and the SJJ community. Please pray for our seniors who begin their second day of the senior Kairos Retreat.  The theme for last night was “Who am I in God’s eyes?”  Today’s theme is “Where is Christ in my life?” Give rest, O Christ, to your servants, with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.  All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 

While St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. guarded the door.

 Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,

 Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,

 Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)

 Could crowd career with conquest while there went

 Those years and years by of world without event

 That in Majorca Alphonsus watched the door.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (Hopkins wrote this poem in honor of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, who for forty-five years faithfully held the lowly job of doorkeeper at the Jesuit college at Majorca.)

 

 

Those who possess many things are not as rich as those who possess only one thing such as compassion
Tuesday, November 01, 2016

All Saints Day

 “Around your throne the saints, our brothers and sisters, sing your praise forever.  Their glory fills us with joy, and their communion with us in your church gives us inspiration and strength as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith, eager to meet them.  With their great company and all the angels we praise your glory as we cry out with one voice:  ‘Holy, holy, holy’”

 The feast of All Saints does not honor a company of “immortals,” far removed from the realm of ordinary human existence.  The saints were not “super” human beings but those who realized the vocation for which all human beings were created and to which we are ultimately called.  No one is called to be another St. Ignatius or St. Mother Teresa.  But there is a path to holiness that lies within our individual circumstances, that engages our own talents and temperaments, that contends with our own strengths and weaknesses, that responds to the needs of our own neighbors and our particular moment in history.  This feast strengthens and encourages us to create our own path by walking it. 

 God in his wisdom has given us companions of Jesus in the saints to accompany us along our path.  And there is no reason to feel as if devotion to the saints somehow takes away from our devotion to Jesus: everything saints somehow say and do is centered on Christ and points us in his direction.

 Many of our seniors begin their Kairos retreat after school today – the retreat ends on Friday.  Pray for the success of this retreat.  I just heard that former SJJ faculty member Dick Nagel is dealing with some serious health issues.  Keep Dick in your prayers.  We give thanks for the saints and for all who have been companions to us along our way to and with the Lord.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 Jesus’ Warning!

 Jesus warns us about our wanting and collecting “stuff.”  We are obsessed with building bigger and more beautiful temples, forgetting that the holiness of God is found in the quiet within.  We are so busy creating the perfect lifestyle that we miss out on living lives of meaning and purpose.  God calls us to seek much more precious and lasting gifts than the world is capable of offering – treasures like compassion, reconciliation, justice, peace.  What is required first, however, is to give up the attitudes and avarices that make possessing the things of God difficult if not impossible.

Jay Cormier, Connections

 

Look up and outward, greet not only the day but all who pass with Hello-see love grow before your eyes
Monday, October 31, 2016

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J.

1532-1617

 

Each time the bell rang at the Jesuit College of Montesin near the coast of Spain, it was Fr. Alphonsus Rodriquez’s job to greet the visitor.  He envisioned that it was God himself at the door, saying aloud the words “I’m coming, Lord!” as he moved to the door. He faithfully did this job for 45 years and every visitor received the same happy smile.  All students at the college felt his presence and his influence.  The young St. Peter Claver, S.J. entered the college aflame with the desire to do something for God.  Peter and Fr. Rodriquez became great friends; it was Fr. Rodriguez how urged Peter to go to the South American missions.  Peter followed his mentor’s advice and it was in Cartagena, Colombia, that Peter labored heroically among the slaves brought from Africa.

 

When free from his duties as doorkeeper, Alphonsus made time to console the sick, advise the troubled, and distribute alms to the needy.  He spent a lot of time in prayer.  Many were attracted to his holiness and prayerfulness.

 

As he reached his eighties, he became more and more feeble, quite thin, and rather bent over.  He could no longer do his duties as a doorkeeper.  In his final months, his memory began to fail, he was not even able to remember his favorite prayers.  He had to be satisfied with the names “Jesus” and “Mary.”  Just before he died, he raised his head to see the many Jesuits and friends who surrounded his bed; he picked up his crucifix and kissed it and said, “Jesus!”

 

It was on this date that he passed in 1617. 

 

 

Lord, you are glorified in the lives of such saints as Fr. Alphonsus Rodriguez and in recognizing their holiness, we are aware of your holiness.  Surrounded by this crowd of witnesses, help us run our appointed race and with them receive the glory meant for us.  St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 

 

Is Work a Hideous Necessity?

There is a common delusion that work is a punishment for sin, a hideous necessity.  That it is something to be endured for the money if brings in, but a person’s real life only begins when he leave his work and seeks distractions or amusement outside it.

Yet for the average person, work takes up nearly the whole of his waking life! It is a mistake to suppose that work was intended to be a punishment for sin.  Work was not introduced into man’s life  after  Adam sinned, but before.  Before Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God gave them the task of dressing and keeping the garden.  Man was to know God by reflecting God’s joy in creating the world in His image: man’s work was to be a way for God to enter into the world, and for the world to share the experience of God Himself.

But that which did follow from the sin of Adam and Eve was that work was to become a painful effort.  But with the knowledge that God puts us in situations for reasons, and we are to serve Him by serving others, we can do our difficult work with more joy, ease, and hopefulness knowing He is within all we are doing.
Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) and English Catholic laywoman, artist, and visionary, saw every person as part of the “whole Christ,” even as the Nazi bombs convulsed the neighborhood around her.

 

Reaching Out will Fulfill You Within
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. – John 3:8

Many religious traditions incorporate an awareness of breathing into their spirituality.  It is good to pray in a physical, bodily way and an awareness of breath can be part of that.  Take a few moments to be quiet and still.  Still comfortably, or stand or lied down. Just be sure your breathing is not obstructed.  Spend a minute or two thinking God for the gift of life that comes with breathing, a gift we often take for granted.  As you slow down and become quieter, let each inward breath remind you of the way God reaches out to you.  Let each outward breath be a response of reaching out to God.  – Fr. Michael McGirr, S.J.

 

Holy Spirit, when you dwell in someone’s heart, you live in what is infinitely lower.  Spirit of Holiness, you live in the midst of impurity and corruption; Spirit of Wisdom, you live in the midst of folly. Oh, continue to dwell there, you who do not seek a desirable dwelling-place, that one day you may finally be pleased by the dwelling which you yourself have prepared in my heart. (Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us

 "The Fist"
 
There are days
 when the sun goes down
 like a fist,
 though of course

 if you see anything
 in the heavens
 in this way
 you had better get

 your eyes checked
 or, better still,
 your diminished spirit.
 The heavens

 have no fist,
 or wouldn't they have been
 shaking it
 for a thousand years now,

 and even
 longer than that,
 at the dull, brutish
 ways of mankind--

 heaven's own
 creation?
 Instead:  such patience!
 Such willingness

 to let us continue!
 To hear,
 little by little,
 the voices--

 only, so far, in
 pockets of the world--
 suggesting
 the possibilities

 of peace?
 Keep looking.
 Behold, how the fist opens
 with invitation. - Mary Oliver

 

Remember to Breathe - To Understand - To Love
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

St. Ignatius on Conflict

 
     
 

"Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and respect."  St. Ignatius Loyola

Conflict from time to time is inevitable.  Good and thoughtful people will disagree occasionally on how they see things.  The Jewish Talmud wisely teaches that "we see things as we are, not as they are."  Not everybody looks at the world in the same way we do, and sometimes our disagreement leads to stinging words or hurtful behavior.

Fr. Paul Coutinho, SJ, of St. Louis University, offers a summary of St. Ignatius's advice on how to proceed when in conflict:  "The first step is to find a good interpretation for what the other person is saying or doing.  It might be good to see the hurtful behavior as coming from either ignorance or unconscious pain.  If I believe that the behavior is more deliberate, then St. Ignatius encourages me to seek clarity with the other person.  I can ask the person what he really means by what he is saying or doing, or I can tell him how I feel when he says or does something that seems hurtful, or I can tell him what I would like from him.

"If that does not seem to work, then the third step is to correct the person's behavior with kindness and love - use every appropriate means to help the other person. Sometimes this love will motivate the person to change his or her behavior.  Even if the person doesn't change, I remain a free and loving person, not an angry, resentful one." 


Sophomore retreat begins today after school and ends tomorrow afternoon.  Please pray for our sophomores on this important retreat.  Longtime SJJ faculty member Butch Welling requests prayers for his 96 year-old father, Buck Welling.  He broke his hip Sunday.  For peaceful hearts; for the grace to hear another's point of view graciously; for all those struggling because of the economy; for all who have asked for our prayers.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

 See God in All Things – St. Ignatius Loyola

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry "hello Anne"

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,

dies young.

Anne Sexton, “Welcome Morning”

 

"For the greater glory of God" - A.M.D.G.
Monday, October 24, 2016

"A Plurality of Gifts": Partnership in Jesuit Education

"Glory be to Him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3:20)

Last Thursday, 65 St. John’s Jesuit faculty and staff participated in what we call an “Ignatian lunch” where they come to together to share a meal and reflect on our Jesuit mission. A Jesuit school building like SJJ is made up of bricks and mortar, but a Jesuit school's most important composition is its people, men and women of different outlook and talent who share a commitment to the Ignatian Vision of education. For many years now, Jesuit schools have ceased to be primarily staffed by Jesuits. Yet the result has been an invigorating renewal of Jesuit education through the efforts of lay staff and faculty who enthusiastically have taken up the Ignatian legacy and adapted it in their own particular way.

The Society of Jesus, in its recent documents, has noted the importance of this shared partnership: "The Society sponsors the school in partnership with many others who are dedicated to Jesuit education. Together we share responsibility for the Jesuit mission and Ignatian vision of the school. Such partnership and cooperation is consistent with the Church's vision in Vatican II and is an essential dimension of the contemporary Jesuit way of proceeding rooted in the realization that to prepare our complex and divided world for the coming of the Kingdom requires a plurality of gifts, perspectives, and experiences" ("What Makes a Jesuit School Jesuit?" p. 2).

 

Pray at the passing of Edward Milewski as he moves to his eternal rest with the Lord.  His son, Wayne Milewski, is a Foundation Board member at SJJ; he is a past Board President.  Pray for Wayne and his family.  Pray, also, at the death of Sylvia Fouty as she moves on to her loving Lord.  Pray for her grandson Tanner Buck ’23 and his family. Pray for the faculty and staff at St. John’s Jesuit, and all Jesuit schools, as they labor to bring Christ to their students and form “men and women for others” (A third of the 56 Jesuit high schools are co-educational.). Good Jesus, you have deigned to refresh our souls with the sweet stream of knowledge; grant that one day we may come to you, its source and spring. (Alcuin of York, 735-804)  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

"Descend from your head into your heart"

You must descend from
your head into your heart.
At present your thoughts of God
are in your head. And God Himself is,
as it were, outside you, and
so your prayer and other spiritual
exercises remain exterior. Whilst you are still
in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but
will always be whirling about, like snow
in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

St. Theophan

 

What does it mean to cherish each day?
Friday, October 21, 2016

Did You Know?

October is moving fast. It is important to get out and see the beauty of autumn.  It won’t be too long before the colored leaves disappear and the earth prepares for winter. 

In 1582, October really zipped by.  People went to bed on Thursday, October 4, 1582, and woke up the next day which by law was ordered to become Friday, October 15.  Overnight the world had lost eleven days, and a Jesuit was to blame!

Fr. Christopher Clavius, S.J. (1538-1612), an astronomer and the best mathematician of his day, was appointed by the pope to fix problems that had emerged over the centuries because of mathematical inaccuracies in the traditional calendar.  Calendar feast days were moving out of sync with the seasons.  For example, because of how the traditional calendar calculated its dates, Easter was becoming more of a harvest feast than one celebrating the new life of spring.

Clavius and his committee put together an ingenious new calendar which solved the problem, but to implement it, eleven days had to be sheared off the traditional calendar.  Pope Gregory gave his consent to the project, and so in October in 1582, the traditional calendar ended and the new "Gregorian" calendar.

The new calendar at first was confusing to many Catholics, who felt they were cheated out of eleven days of life.  Windows were broken in several houses of European Jesuits, who were blamed for the change.  Catholic Europe eventually accepted the new calendar, and even Protestant and Orthodox countries came to see its value and adopted it.  The American colonies adopted it shortly before the Revolutionary War.

 I open my eyes, O God, to the glory and sunshine in your creation, and I open my heart to receive the full impact of your love.  May the beauty of your creation wipe all that is dark in me. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Spiritual Movements in Our Lives

For upon this road, to

down is to go up, and to go

up, to go down. – St. John of the Cross

If I were to die tonight and were asked what moves me most in this world, I would perhaps reply: It is the way God passes through our hearts.  Everything is swallowed up by love. – Julien Green
         

 

Reflection of One's Day - MIndfulness
Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Examen Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola at St. John’s Jesuit

Every school day the St. John’s Jesuit community pauses for a few moments to pray St. Ignatius' Examen Prayer.  We are familiar with its "parts" and rhythm: 1. Ask God for light. 2. Give God thanks for His gifts today. 3.  Think over the day.  4.  Face our shortcomings.  5. Consider the day ahead.  The Examen gives our school community a few moments of quiet each day to center ourselves and to recall God's active presence in our day.

The Examen presumes an expectation that God really cares for us in the particulars of our day and desires to offer support and guidance.  The Examen reminds us that God is in our presence moment by moment with His love. This counteracts our tendency to forget or marginalize God from our conversations and daily activities, as if God were absent or distant from our real concerns and experiences.

We believe that something happens in our spiritual lives when we pray the Examen regularly with faith.  We become reflective people and much more attuned to those "smaller moments" in our day when God is encouraging us to grow. The Examen helps us be more mindful, more appreciative, more attentive, reverent, and devoted.  In time we find ourselves noticing things in our "small pools" that surprise us with delight!

 Linda McAshlan is having surgery on this Friday.  Linda taught English at SJJ for many years and was always a favorite of the senior class.  Keep this in your prayers. Pray for our student and faculty as they begin quarter two at SJJ. You know better than I how much I love you, Lord.  You know it and I know it not, for nothing is more hidden from me than the depths of my own heart.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. 

  Seedlings

 I live in a state of hope, an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.   – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity.  Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. – G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

 It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God to attain that state wherein we can freely cease from fighting. – John Woolman, Quaker mystic (1720-1772)

 

Spiritual Fulfillment
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

St. Isaac Jogues, S.J.

Jesuit and North American Martyr (1607-1646)

 “My hope is in God, who has only us with whom to fulfill his plans.  It is for us to be faithful and not to spoil his work by our cowardice.”  St. Isaac Jogues

 Early one winter morning in 1644, a gaunt and ragged figure knocked at the door of the Jesuit house in Paris asking to see the Father Rector.  When he was presented the visitor announced that he had news from New France.  Intrigued, the priest asked whether he knew the Jesuits in Canada.  “Oh, yes,” answered the stranger, “I know them well.”  And what of Father Isaac Jogues, a young priest who had been captured by the Iroquois, who was horribly tortured, and was presumed dead?  “He is not dead,” answered the mysterious visitor.  “He stands before you.”  As proof, he held out his hands, from which one of his thumbs and several fingers had been severed.  “Dear God in heaven!” exclaimed the Father Rector, before grasping Father Jogues in his arms. 

 Father Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit missionary priests who joined the Canadian mission in 1636.  He worked and lived with the Huron Indians instructing them how to cultivate the land, tend the crops, and how to care for fowl, swine, and cattle.  The “Blackrobes” as the Jesuits were called, because of the long black soutanes, instructed the Hurons in the faith of Christ.  While accompanying a group of Huron’s to the city of Three Rivers near modern-day Montreal for supplies, the group was captured by Iroquois warriors. 

 This began thirteen months of enslavement by the Iroquois and tortures that included gruesome mutilation of his hands. All this time, Jogues ministered to the Huron Indians who were also enslaved and tortured.  He escaped and returned to France, where he was honored as a living martyr.  But he requested to go back to the Huron Indians. On his return, he was immediately stripped and beaten, his flesh cut out and eaten.  He is honored today along with sevenother North American Jesuit martyrs. -   “Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

 Please pray for a friend of mine, Lucette Langlois of Sudbury, Canada.  She is recovering from a bad accident along with the death of a friend and her brother.  Father, you consecrated the first beginnings of the faith in North America by the preaching and martyrdom of Saint Isaac Jogues and the other North American martyrs.  By the help of their prayers may the Christian faith continue to grow throughout the world.  St. Isaac Jogues, pray for us. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 Be Yourself!

 The saint is unlike everybody else precisely because he is humble.  Humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be yourself you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe.

 A humble man is not disturbed by praise.  Since he is no longer concerned with himself, and since he knows where the good that is in him comes from he does not refuse praise, because it belongs to the God he loves, and in receiving it he keeps nothing for himself but gives it all, and with great joy, to God.  – Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

 

The Society of Jesus
Monday, October 17, 2016

New Superior General of the Society of Jesus    

The 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus has elected Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, of the Venezuelan Province, Superior General.

Father Arturo Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on November 12, 1948. He is the Delegate of the General for the Interprovincial Houses and Works of the Society of Jesus in Rome. He is a doctor in political sciences from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and has a license in philosophy from the Andrés Bello Catholic University. Father Arturo Sosa speaks Spanish, Italian, English and understands French. 

Superior General is not of military origin, but is derived from "general", as opposed to "particular. The Society of Jesus organized into provinces, each with a provincial superior with the head of the order being the General Superior.

The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540. The first Jesuit school opened in Messina, Sicily, in 1548. Today, 3,730 schools carry on this tradition all around the world, caring for 2.5 million students in places ranging from Egypt and Kenya to Nepal and Belize. Cura Personalis, or care for the individual, is a key value of Jesuit education.

St. John’s Jesuit is part of a network of 59 Jesuit high schools in the United States; these schools educate approximately 40,000 young men and women yearly.  Well over 95% of their graduates continue education at the college level. 

Fifteen of the 59 schools are coeducational.  Approximately 18% of all Jesuit high school students are minorities.  Jesuit schools employ over 3,000 full and part-time faculty, including nearly 300 Jesuits.  Three-quarters of the schools have lay persons or members of other religious communities as their principals.  Six schools have lay presidents at the helm. 

 

Pray for this new Superior General as he begins his work overseeing the Society of Jesus. O God, bring new life where we are worn and tired; new love where we have turned hard-hearted; forgiveness where we have wounded; and the joy and freedom of your Holy Spirit.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.   

 

Fall In Love

 Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. 

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evening, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and
gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. ( Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983; he coined the phrase Men and Women for Others. This phrase is well-known by our students.)

Work Hard, Pray Long, Love Much
Thursday, October 13, 2016

Yes, it is important to ask God in prayer!  Our prayer changes us, not God.

 
     
 

 Doesn’t God know what is best for us, and won’t he do that if he really loves us regardless of what we ask for – or for that that matter, whether we pray at all?  

 Did it ever occur to you that what is best may be different if we are praying desperately for something than if we are not?  We are individuals, all different, even in our deepest relationship with God and the world.  Our humility before God, our trust in him, our conviction in faith and love that something will be good for us – all this goes in to determine what is really best for us in God’s eyes here and now.

 This surely does not mean that we ought always to receive exactly what we want, as we want it.  But prayer, and that means above all a habitual prayerful attitude before God, affects us deeply so that we are not the same persons we would be if we did not pray.  Therefore, what is best for us will be different, too, in God’s eyes as well as our own.

Fr. John J. Dietzen (An award-winning popular author who offers candid information and advice on moral questions.)

 Please pray at the passing to his loving Lord of Churton Budd ’82.  He passed from this world to his eternal reward, October 6th.  Pray for his wife and two daughters, his family, and for the SJJ community.  Also, Cynthia Griesheimer passed away October 8th.  She was mother of Matt Griesheimer ’93 and wife of a beloved SJJ teacher, Joe Greisheimer.  Joe passed from this world a few years ago.  Pray for her peaceful passing to her Lord and for her family and friends.  Lord, so fill us with your love that we may count nothing too small to do for you, nothing too much to give, and nothing too much to bear. (St. Ignatius Loyola)  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 Be careless of the worlds’ delights.

 With all due reverence for God’s gifts, it is my opinion that we should be quite careless of all delights and consolations of sense or spirit, regardless of how pleasurable or sublime they may be.  If they come, welcome them but do not rest in them; believe me, you will expend a good deal of energy if you remain long in sweet feelings and tears.  Possibly too, you may begin to love God on their account and not for himself.  You will know whether or not this is happening if you become upset and irritable when you do not experience them.  Should you find this to be the case, then your love is not yet perfect.  When love is perfect, it may allow the sense to be nourished and strengthened by sweet emotions and tears, but is never troubled if God permits them to disappear. 

The Cloud of Unknowing (This spiritual masterpiece was written in Middle English by an unknown mystic of the fourteenth century. 

  

To be beloved, to be a good example, to be remembered
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Servant of God James Rem, S.J.

1546-1618.

 It was on this day at four o’clock in the afternoon in 1618,  Fr. James Rem returned his soul to his Creator and began eternal life with Jesus and His mother, Mary.  He was seventy-two years old and had been a Jesuit for fifty-two years.

 For thirty-two years his work at Ingolstadt College did not change; he was in charge of the boarding students.  He was so beloved that after their graduation students in contact with him and he kept in contact with them.  It was through his good example and holy life that many of them chose to become priests and religious. 

 Fr. Rem’s entire life was directed to praising Our Lord and Our Lady.  He could never say enough about them, not could he refrain from exhorting others to praise them as he did. 

Jesuit, Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

 Our prayers have been requested at the passing of Zachary Leffler ’10.  Pray for his peaceful passing to his loving Lord.  Pray for his family and for the Saint John’s Jesuit community.  Also, pray at the passing of Luci Gorski, longtime friend of St. John’s Jesuit, to her loving Lord.  Pray for her family including her sons, Joel ’79, John ’83, and grandsons: Lucas ’08, Alex ’10, Ben ’12, and Max ’12. Servant of God James Rem, pray for us.  Welcome, Lord,  into your calm and peaceful kingdom those who, out of this present life, have departed to be with you. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 “The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us, then, cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)

 And yet he felt that now, at this very moment his inner life was, as it were, wavering in the balance, and that the slightest effort would tip the scale to one side or the other.  And he made the effort, calling to the God Whose presence he had had felt in his soul the day before and that God instantly responded. – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

 Halts by me that footfall:

Is my gloom, after all,

Shade of His hand,

Outstretched caressingly?

Francis Thompson

 

The step you take, the path you walk, the life you lead, brings you closer to.....
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Joao Bosco Bournier, S.J.

Martyr of Brazil (1917-1976)

 On this day in October of 1976 Father Joao Bosco Bournier, S.J. was assassinated, for defending the liberty of the poor.  The peasants erected a cross in his name which said: “He died, like Jesus Christ, offering his life for our liberation.”

 After thirty years of dreary administrative tasks, Fr. Bournier in 1966 was given the assignment of being a missionary.  However, he was not sent overseas but took a missionary position in his native Brazil.  He went to a region of Brazil which had been recently carved out of the Amazon jungle in central Brazil.  Developers had pushed back jungle and cleared forests and swamps to create enormous plantations.  For the wealthy cattle barons there were fortunes to be made.  Landless peasants were the cheap labor, but they were a little more than slaves.  The Indians were a step below the landless peasants.  They were regarded as less-than-human and simply one more obstacle to clear the land. 

 Fr. Bournier was forced to reflect on the meaning of the Gospel in this situation of life where life was cheap.  He found himself drawn to the Indians, the least among the poor, who had no friends or advocates.  While visiting a small town in the area, he learned that two peasant were being held and tortured in the local jail.  Father Bournier confronted the police and demanded the release of the women.  The police called his a “commie” and struck him in the face with his revolver.  The gun went off and Fr. Bournier died with a bullet wound to the head.  As he lay dying he prayed to God for the peasants and Indians who were “so anonymous.” 

All Saints, Robert Ellsberg

  We pray for people so poor that they cannot help themselves.  We pray for small children who die of malnutrition, and others who suffer from disease.  We pray for little children too young to pray for themselves. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 When a person moves toward God.

 If I were to die tonight and were asked what moves me most in this world, I would perhaps reply:  It is the way God passes through our hearts. Everything is swallowed up by love. – Julien Green

 If we could lift the veil and if we watched with vigilant attention, God would endlessly reveal himself to us and we should see and rejoice in his active presence in all that befalls us.  At every event we should exclaim: “It is the Lord!”

Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J.

 

Long Live Christ the King
Thursday, October 06, 2016

Servant of God Father Emile Martinez, S.J.

Servant of God Brother John Baptist Arconada, S.J.

1890-1934)

Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War

 On October 7, 1934, Fr. Emile Martinez, S.J. and Brother John Baptist Arconada, S.J. were arrested by Spanish socialist revolutionaries who had taken over the country.  They were on a train to Gijon, Spain to teach at the College of Immaculate Conception, when the socialist uprising happened.  Revolutionary forces took control of the train.  They were arresting and killing priests.  After secretly escaping from the train, they were on the road to Oviedo, Spain when they were stopped by revolutionary forces.  Suspecting them to be priests, they were arrested and sent to revolutionary headquarters.  The commander said, “We have no room for any more arrests.  Take them and do with them what you like.”  As they left the headquarters bystanders shouted out: “Kill them, now! Don’t let them say any more Masses.” 

 In the dark of night on October 7th they were loaded on a truck, and taken to an abandon mine tunnel.  When the truck stopped the martyrs were told:  “This is the end of the line for you.”  Bravely the two Jesuits positioned themselves in front of the tunnel, embraced each other, and said in a loud voice, “Long live Christ the King.”  Father Martinez’s head was brutally crushed and Brother Arconada was beaten to death.  They were buried in a common grave along with 40 other arrestees.  Two weeks later the common grave was opened and they were given a proper burial. 

Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

 Our prayers are requested for Michael Padanilam ’18 whose grandfather passed away recently.  Michael was very close to his grandpa and is taking it hard.  Save me, Lord, from the distraction of trying to impress others, and from the dangers of having done so.  Help me to enjoy praise for work well done, and then to pass it on to you.  Teach me to learn from criticism, and give me wisdom. Servants of God Martinez and Arconada, pray for us.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 “Give place to others, valuing all others from the heart as superior to themselves, outwardly showing respect and reverence due to each person’s position.”  St. Ignatius Loyola

 It is the devil himself who sows suspicion in people’s hearts in order to divide them from one another.  Our hearts are convinced by means of fallacies, or half-truths, into selfish convictions that lead us into a world closed off from objectivity. 

 Suspicion sets up in the heart a crooked measuring rod, which displaces reality.  It is no longer a question of sorting out this or that wrong idea; everything that happens is interpreted in a twisted way, because the measure applied is crooked.

Alongside suspicion there grows a state of anxiety that is also a bad spirit.  Those who have fallen into the habit of being suspicious about everything little by little lose the peace of mind that comes from trusting confidence in God.

 Rather than seek our justification from others, the just man seeks justification only from God, and therefore he humbles himself before God and others.  As Ignatius said, “Let all take special care to guard the doors of our senses very diligently from all disorder; and keep our souls in peace and true humility, shown in silence when silence should be kept, and, when it is necessary to speak, in considerate and edifying speech, free from all sign of impatience or pride.”

Pope Francis, The Way of Humility

 

How Have You Loved Today?
Wednesday, October 05, 2016

When Is “Sin” Sin?

Sinfulness of the Heart

 
     
 

 It is true that every sin is first and primarily in our will, not in what we do?  The essence of any sin is that it is a deliberate, freely chosen, action against the law of God.  This means before any external action takes place, our will, which is meant to be directed toward love and toward God, says: “In this I will not obey; in this I will do what I want, not what God wants.”  When this happens, as Jesus himself tells us, we have already sinned.   Actions are important, but it is the sinfulness of our hearts, the sinful leanings in our will that lead to those deeds, that must be dealt with above all if we are to renew our lives.

 A Jesuit once told me that Jesus wants all of us, not just part of us; Jesus’ love for us is without limit, our response to him in love frees us to totally trust him.  But God understands our human weakness; he forgives and can help us reform our heart. 

Taken from Catholic Q & A, Fr. John J. Dietzen

 Lord, in union with your love, unite my work with your great work, and perfect it.  As a drop of water, poured into a river, is taken up into the activity of the river, so may my labor become part of your work. Thus may those among whom I live and work be drawn into your love.  (St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 The Little Way

There is no cause to envy.

 “You know that our Lord does not look at the greatness or the difficulty of an action but at the love with which you do it.”

 “You sent me off to fetch one of father’s big glasses and had me put my little thimble alongside it; then you filled them both up with water and asked me which I thought was fuller.  I had to admit that one was just as full as the other because neither of them would hold any more.  That was the way you helped me to grasp how it was that in heaven the least have no cause to envy the greatest.”

Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul

Concern for the well-being of others.......Its the real thing
Tuesday, October 04, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi

1182-1226

 “We have no right to glory in ourselves because of any extraordinary gifts, since these do not belong to us but to God.  But we may glory in crosses, afflictions, and tribulations, because these are our own.”

 The words above are from St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day is today.  Francis is known for his vivid sense of the sacramentality of creation.  All things, whether living or inanimate, reflected their Creator’s love and were thus due reverence and wonder. 

 He esteemed what he called Sister Poverty as his wife, “the fairest bride in the whole world.”  He encouraged his brothers to welcome ridicule and persecution as a means of conforming to the folly of the cross of Christ.  He taught that unmerited suffering borne patiently for love of Christ was the path to “perfect joy.” 

 Francis founded the Friars Minor (the Franciscan Order) in 1209.  His identification with Christ was so intense that in 1224 he received the “stigmata,”  the physical wounds of Christ’s passion, on his hands and feet.  His last years were marked at once by excruciating physical suffering and spiritual happiness.  With his last breath he exclaimed, “Welcome Sister Death.”  At his request he was laid on bare ground in his old habit. 

The Everything Saints Book, Ruth Rejnis

 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  Where these is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  (St. Francis of Assisi)  Saint Francis, pray for us.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 The Simple Life

 In the Gospel, the rich young man was called by Christ, but he could not give up what he had to follow Christ.  For Ignatius this call is a clear way to follow Christ.  Ignatius’ response to poverty was patterned after his hero, St. Francis of Assisi.  During his great conversion Ignatius chose the life of a beggar.  He stripped off all his garments, he gave them to a beggar; he dressed himself in the beggars clothes and went to kneel before the altar of Our Lady.

 The Jesuit Dean Brackley had this to say to us about the challenge of our consumer culture and the choice to live with less:  “The consumer culture is primarily individualistic, with people pursuing private goals over more communal ones.  In a competitive environment, its’ everyone for himself or herself.  This does not mean that personal goals are negative per se. Individual pursuit is the basis of the capitalist system, arguably the most efficient economic system for the production and distribution of goods.  The danger, however, is becoming interested solely in your own well-being, unconcerned with those outside of your family, friends, and local community.”

 

What good will you do today?
Monday, October 03, 2016

The Feast Day of St. Francis Borgia, S.J.

1510-1572

“He exchanged his human life for a better one.”

 Francis was born into a royal family in the ancient kingdom of Valencia, Spain.  Trusted friend of Emperor Charles V of Spain, husband, father of eight, founder of a college, Francis was always looking for more.  When Elenor, his beloved wife, died in 1546, Borgia desired to become a member of The Society of Jesus.  Ignatius told him to fulfill his responsibilities to his children first.  When this was done, he laid aside his titles and estates, and entered the Society.  His son served at his first Mass.  As a Jesuit he served as the leader of the Jesuits of Spain and Portugal.  In this capacity he founded some twenty colleges. 

 In 1565, Borgia was elected the third General of the Society of Jesus.  In this position, the Pope and rulers relied on him for many things.  Pope Pius V asked him to go on a mission to secure Spain’s help against the Turks.  When the long, grueling mission was over in December of 1571, the Pope asked him not to come home to Rome but to go to France on another mission.  The winter of 1571 was unusually cold; and the thin, weary, and wasted Fr. Borgia’s trip to France was torture on his body.  Borgia began to suffer from fever and pleurisy.  On his way home from France, he was forced to cross the Alps in a litter.  On arriving in Rome, he was immediately put to bed – he was dying.  He had so many visitors, princes, cardinals, ambassadors, and friends that he eventually had to ask them to “Leave me, for now I have only time for God.” 

 On the night of September 30, the sixty-one-year-old Fr. General, in peace a serenity, exchanged his human life for a better life.

“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

 Lord, you called St. Francis Borgia from a royal palace to be your servant.  Grant through his prayers that all who have died to sin and renounced the sinful world may live for you alone. St. Francis Borgia, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 Our Way of the Cross

 Lord, let me receive Your cross gladly; let me recognize Your cross in mine, and that of the whole world in Yours.

 Do not let me shut my eyes to the magnitude of the world’s sorrow or to the suffering of those nearest me.  Do not let me shrink from accepting my share in that which is too big for me, and do not let me fail in sympathy for that which seems trivial. 

 Let me always remember that those sufferings known only to myself, which seem to be without purpose and without meaning, are part of Your plan to renew our world. 

 Teach me to accept myself – my own temperament, my temptations, my limitations, my failures, the humiliation of being myself.

Caryll Houselander, The Way of the Cross (One of the great spiritual masters of our time, Mrs. Houselander died in 1954 at the age of 53.  She had been in miserably poor health for many years.)

 

To Guide Us with a Light from Above
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Companions Along the Way

 
     
 

 Today the Church recognizes the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “The angels work together for the benefit of us all.”  “God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their independence, and their order.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church)  Man is the summit of God’s creation.  Angels are beings of pure spirit, created by God to serve Man and God’s creation.  Christ is the center of the angelic world, and all angels belong to him and act for the good of man through him.  Angels have been present since creation and serve to bring-about God’s plan.  In the New Testament, God speaks many times through angels, such as the annunciation of Mary.

 Angels, though beings of pure spirit, are personal and immortal creatures with intelligence and will.  Angels in our lives are servants of God; they are messengers for God in our lives.  Angels are companions God sends at the right moments of our lives.  It would be helpful for us to pay attention.

 Blessed Lord of angels and archangels, we praise you for the brightness of your love.  Give your angels charge over us, to guard us against the powers of evil.  May these beings of light encircle and protect us, so that we many serve you better and not lose our vision of your heavenly kingdom.  (Psalm 91:11) Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, pray for us. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

“His life was good but his thinking was bad.” (Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy)

 Levin is a central figure in Tolstoy’s  great novel, Anna Karenina. The death of Levin’s brother presents an existential crisis in his life.  For the first time he feels that nothing lies ahead for him but “suffering, death, and eternal oblivion.”  He searches for some meaning in his life.  He spends hours in tormented reflection.  Nothing satisfies his yearning for meaning.  He begins to think about ending it all.  One day a peasant says of a friend, “He’s an upright old man.  He lives for the soul.  He remembers God.”  The words strike Levin powerfully and cause a rethinking.  He perceives a vast difference between his thinking and his life.  His thinking was a tormented search for ideas that might give meaning to his existence.  Meanwhile he has fallen in love and married a woman who loves him very much. He actively manages a large estate. He’s responsible for the well-being of his brother, sister, and an extended family.  His son is born.  He is busy with a wide circle of friends. 

 How ironic, Levin says.  He thinks that life is meaningless, but the life that he actually lives is busy, productive, and satisfying.  What did it mean? “It meant that his life was good, but his thinking was bad.”  His reasoning tells him that life is a pitiless struggle for survival that rewards selfishness and power.  But he doesn’t really believe that.  In his everyday life he lives for an ideal of the good.  He begins again to “live for his soul and remember God.”

A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, the Examen of St. Ignatius, Jim Manney

 

Believe
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

St. Wenceslaus

Martyr and Patron of Czechoslovakia

d. 929?

 Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who was the Duke of Bohemia.  He was educated by his grandmother; she introduced Christianity to Bohemia.  Wenceslaus spread Christianity, establishing churches in every city.  He demonstrated charity in many works of mercy, but also in banning torture for interrogation and dismantled the gallows as a form of punishment.  His brother and the nobles of the land did not accept his reforms.  Wenceslaus invited his brother to his home to discuss the matter; his brother attacked him brutally and killed him.  Legend says that as he was being beaten, he prayed for his brother’s forgiveness.

 The SJJ community requests prayers for the peaceful passing to the Lord of Sean Walter ’86.  Sean passed away peacefully in his home. Pray for his family – especially his wife and five children. Today the SJJ community has opened its doors for the funeral Mass of Shelley Killen, former SJJ staff member and longtime friend of our community.  Pray for Shelley’s peaceful passing to her loving Lord.  Pray for her family in these difficult times.  Come into my soul, Lord, as the dawn breaks into the sky; let your sun rise in my heart at the coming of the day. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 Lukewarm Christians

 When the Church loses courage, a lukewarm atmosphere enters.  The lukewarm, the lukewarm Christians without courage.  And yet we have the courage to get involved in our petty little affairs, our jealousies, our envies, our careerism. – Pope Francis

 

Serving Others
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

St. Vincent de paul

1580-1660

 “The poor are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting as you will see, but the uglier and dirtier they are, the more unfair and bitter, the more you must give them your love. It is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them.”

 The quote is from St. Vincent de Paul, whom the Church honors today.  He was a priest in his forties when he heard the confession of a dying peasant.  The man worked on the grounds of the estate of a wealthy family for whom Vincent was serving as family tutor and chaplain.  Before slipping away, the greatly relieved laborer told Vincent that he would have died in the state of mortal sin had he not confessed to the priest and received absolution.  That gave Vincent pause. He realized the power of his vocation and the good he could do. He decided to devote himself to the poor. 

 He turned from the coddled life he had been living and began to focus on doing good works, to the point that there did not seem to be anyone left out of his ministry:  orphans, the physically ill, the poor, prisoners, and the mentally ill.  He was a doer and his St. Vincent de Paul Society has set the standard for charity work – what needs to be done and how it should be done. 

 We pray in thanks for charities such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society. We pray for our SJJ Labre outreach to the poor of Toledo program, and all programs that work to serve the poor of the world. Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow human beings throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.  Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and, by our understanding love, give peace and joy. (St. Teresa of Calcutta) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 There can be no spirituality without true humility.  The Lord wants us “each man to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.” (C.S. Lewis)

 The following is from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  This masterpiece of satire is a sly and ironic portrayal of human life from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant of “Our Father Below” (the Devil).

 Screwtape:  “I see only one thing to do at the moment.  Your patient has become humble.  All virtues are less formidable to us once man is aware he has them,  but this is especially true of humility.  Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble,’ and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility – will appear.”

 “You must conceal from man the true end of Humility.  Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion of his own talents and character.  The Enemy (God) wants to bring man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.  God wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents – or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.

 

Reflection
Monday, September 26, 2016

Jesuit Life and Mission Today

October 2, General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus will begin with the Eucharist at the Gesu church in Rome, and the first plenary session will take place the next day on the Feast of St. Francis Borgia. The Society of Jesus asks our prayers during this important time in the Society’s history when the Congregation will elect a new Superior General and take up matters of importance for the future of the Society’s mission, its governance, and its community life. This is the 36th such meeting in the 450-year history of the Society of Jesus.

 A general congregation is the highest authority, the ultimate governing body in the Society of Jesus.  It represents the Society’s current understanding of itself and its mission.  This congregation will continue on the mission set by the 35th General Congregation.  One key element of the 35th Congregation was the Society and its apostolates (which includes St. John’s Jesuit) is the “commitment to help establish God’s kingdom by helping all to see the world from the perspective of the poor and marginalized, learning from them, acting with and for them.  The ‘preferential option for the poor’ is implicit in Christ who in God became poor to enrich us with his poverty (2 Cor. 8:9).”  General Congregation 35, para. 71 

 Our prayers of grateful joy go out to Shelley Killen as she passes to new life with her loving Lord. Shelley was a former SJJ staff member and great friend of our community. We are thankful how she enriched our lives and, of course, the lives of her family and friends.  Special prayers go Mike, her loving husband.  Visitation will be Tuesday, September 27 from 2:00 to 9:00 at Walker Funeral Home in Sylvania.  St. John’s Jesuit is honored to hold the funeral Mass in our chapel at 5:00 on Wednesday.  All are welcome to attend.  Please pray, also, for the 36th General Congregation which begins October 2nd.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us. 

 For Those Who Have Died

 Welcome Lord, into your calm and peaceful kingdom those who, our of this present life, have departed to be with you; grant them rest and peace with the spirits of the just; and give them the life that knows not age, the reward that passes not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord. – St. Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556

 

It's all about me as in mercy
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

St. Matthew

Evangelist (first century)

 

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.”  - Matthew 9:9

 

Today is the feast day of St. Matthew the Evangelist.  And what you see in the verse above is about all we  know of him.  Whatever Matthew’s former life he apparently recognized that in order to follow Jesus he must leave the past behind.  Matthew is an powerful example of God’s love and God’s offer of new life.

 

Pope Francis often goes to a church in Rome called St. Louis of France, and he reflects on the painting “The Calling of St. Matthew,” by Caravaggio.  In the painting Matthew, in the backroom of a bar, is greedily counting the money he extorted that day in taxes; Jesus points a finger at him choosing him as an apostle.  Pope Francis has been quoted as saying, “That finger Jesus is pointing at Matthew.  That’s me.  I feel like Matthew.  Matthew holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’  Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.  I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

 

In Matthew’s great parable about the Last Judgment when Jesus returns in his glory, Jesus blesses the chosen with these words:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me.” Jesus adds, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these by brothers, you did it to me.”  Lord, help us to live these words. St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

 

God does not step away from anything in human life!

 

Who is the God of Jesus?  If God has revealed God’s self in the person of Jesus, in the destiny of Jesus, then God must be the same as Jesus.  What becomes manifest in Jesus about God?  Is it not revealed that God not only fulfills us, inspires us, and deeply affects us, but that God has “become” one of us?  What Jesus did, God does.  What Jesus endured, God endures.  God does not step away from anything in human life. – Fr. Romano Guardini

 

The Inner Voice Speaks Love - do you hear it
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fr. Henri Nouwen

(1932-1996)

 On September 21st Fr. Henri Nouwen died of a heart attack, while passing through his native Holland, on his way to Russia to work on a film about his favorite painting, Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son. It came at a time in his life where friends noticed him to be happier than he had ever been – he talked with great enthusiasm of his coming sixty-fifth birthday. 

In a series of books he reflected on the challenge of befriending our death as an event that gives ultimate meaning to our lives.  “The main question is not, How much will we still be able to do during the few years we have left to live? But rather, How can we prepare ourselves for our death in such a way that our dying will be a new way for us to send our own and God’s spirit to those whom we loved and who have loved us?” 

 Nouwen was one of the most popular and influential spiritual writers of his time.  One of his books, published on the day he died, concluded with these words:  “Many friends and family members have died during the past eight years and my own death is not so far away.  But I have heard the inner voice of love, deeper and stronger than ever.  I want to keep trusting in that voice, and be led by it beyond the boundaries of my short life, to where Christ is all in all.”

All Saints, Robert Ellsberg

 St. John’s Jesuit senior Pete McIntyre incurred a year-ending, devastating injury in Friday’s football game.  Keep Pete in your prayers as he recovers.  We pray for all young athletes who have deal with such injuries.  Lord, I am yours, I was born for you; what is your will for me? Let me be rich or beggared, exulting or lamenting comforted or lonely; since I am yours, yours only, what is your will for me. (St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582)Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 “My heart is restless, Lord, till it rests in You.” (St. Augustine)

 Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense, and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house.  There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer.  But there is the certainty that you are waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.  – Fr. Henri Nouwen

 

Fearlessness
Sunday, September 18, 2016

St. Robert Bellarmine

1542-1621

 On the morning of September 17th, between six and seven o’clock, after concluding his prayers, St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. knew  death was approaching.  As his voice began to fail he repeated softly, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”  With the sweet name of Jesus on his lips, the saintly scholar, the greatest theologian of his age, and intrepid defender of the Church, the “biggest little man in the world (Bellarmine was very short of stature),” went to heaven.

 During his career in the Society of Jesus controversy raged in public disputations, sermons, academic lectures, and books.  Catholic leaders invited Bellarmine to teach and preach.  He argued points of theology with respect for his Protestant opponents.  The times brewed bitterness; Bellarmine was effective with gentleness and good humor.  Pope Benedict XIV  called him “the hammer of heretics,” yet his methods were not antagonistic.

 As a beloved teacher in Jesuit schools, he opposed the standard punishment of flogging boys.  He maintained discipline without it.

 A man of deep prayer, an intimate friend of God, he loved one and all.  His friend Galileo invited him to peer into the heavens through a telescope.  He respected Galileo’s view of the solar system as a hypothesis but did not recognize it as fact. 

“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

Frida, I visited Shelley Killen, former SJJ staff member, and a great friend of SJJ.  Shelley battles cancer; she was at home in hospice care, but she was clearly fading.  Friday night she entered, again, the Hospice facility at Flower Hospital.  Please keep her in your prayers.  Pray for her husband Mike, and for her family.  Join us, also, in giving God thanks for two successful Junior Magis Retreats which ended Friday.  Lord, we pray for those whose life on earth is almost at an end, especially for your beloved child Shelley Killen, may she be filled with your peace, and surrender herself totally into your hands.  St. John Bellarmine, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 

God’s Activity in Our Lives

 God exists in movement.  God lives, and God’s living is love.  I begin to understand God’s love when I see it directed not to the world in general but to me.  God is acting in love toward me.  When the Bible says, “Come, Lord,” it is referring not to an image or idea of God but to the living God.  This thought should not confuse us: God is present everywhere.  Surely God is everywhere; everything exists through God, and God sustains everything.  Nevertheless, God comes to each of us.  God always comes to us – coming to human beings, and through human beings coming to the world which God will eventually raise into eternal newness.

Fr. Romani Guardini (1885-2968)  His efforts to relate the Christian message to the modern world led to Vatican II.

 

 

How can I live my life in a better way?
Thursday, September 15, 2016

THE MAGIS RETREAT

Yesterday the St. John’s Jesuit juniors celebrated a class Mass at the end of the school day.  The Mass was an opportunity for the juniors to prayer together and bless the two junior groups who will be on retreat the rest of the week.  At Mass we will bless all the junior retreats this school year.  We will have a similar later in the year for freshmen, sophomores, and seniors. 

The junior retreat is called The Magis Retreat. The word magis means “more” or “better.” St. Ignatius always directed people to seek “the more,” asking themselves, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What more would Christ have me do or be?”

This retreat gives them the opportunity to reflect on what St. Ignatius of Loyola meant when he said that life should be spent living for the “greater glory of God.”  The Jesuit tradition in education encourages students to ask themselves how they can do more and be more in Christ.  

During the retreat, juniors will  consider the question:  How can I live my life in a better way?  They will be given time to talk among themselves about the challenges they face and the obstacles that hinder them from being the best person they can be.   

We hope that after the retreat, they will sense God’s presence in their life, especially in their classmates, teachers, and parents.    

Please pray for the success of these retreats.  Pray for all young people growing up in today’s world.  May our discipline be wise and just; and may our love make it easier for them to understand the love of God.  Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

 Daring to Speak Up.  Finding the courage to live our sorrows and joys. 

 Silence without speaking is as dangerous as solitude without community.  They belong together.  It would tactless, unwise, and even dangerous to expose our innermost being to people who cannot offer us safety and trust.  But I do  suggest that we need loving and caring friends with whom we can speak from the depth of our heart.  Such friends can take away the paralysis that secrecy creates.  They can offer us a safe and sacred place, where we can express our deepest sorrows and joys, and they can confront us in love, challenging us to a greater spiritual maturity.  We might object by saying: “I do not have such trustworthy friends, and I wouldn’t know how to find them.”  But this objection comes from our fear of drinking the cup that Jesus asks us to drink. 

 If we commit ourselves fully to Jesus, we will find people who are on the same journey we are and they will offer themselves to us for encouragement and friendship and love.

 When we dare to speak from the depth of our hearts to the friends God gives us, we will gradually find new freedom within us and new courage to live our own sorrows and joys to the full.  When we truly believe that we have nothing to hide from God, we need to have people around us who represent God for us and to whom we can reveal ourselves with complete trust.

Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

God is Ready Now
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Exaltation of the Cross

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16)

Today’s feast, marks the finding of the relic of Christ’s cross in the fourth century, and takes the place of our Sunday readings. Today’s Gospel includes that famous verse, John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son….”

 The verse is so well loved because it summarizes what Christians believe: God’s overwhelming love for us is visible in Jesus Christ. Today’s feast draws attention to the cross of Jesus, the symbol of that great gift of God.

The cross is a sign Christians take for granted. But the cross points to a powerful story, one that moves from failure-the death of Jesus in incredible suffering and pain-to triumph-his victory over death in the resurrection. The cross proclaims John 3:16: We see Jesus, lifted up for all to see. We realize just how much God loves the world. – Fr. Greg Friedman

Our prayers are requested for Linda Kruse, wife of Jim Kruse ‘71, mother of Andy ‘98 and Pete ’01.  Mrs. Kruse has battled cancer for many years; she is now in Hospice care. She and her family need all the prayers and support this network can provide. Please pray for many of our juniors who begin their Junior Magis Retreat after school today. The retreat ends this Friday. May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from undue attachment to all that is under heaven; grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. (after St. Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226). Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

“Seek grace in the smallest things, and you will find the grace to accomplish great things.” (St. Peter Favre, S.J.)

What do we need to do before we can relate to God?  Nothing, God meets us where we are. Yes, we are imperfect and sometimes sinful, but God loves us as we are now. The Indian Jesuit Fr. Anthony de Mello said, “You don’t have to change for God to love you.”  God enters into relationship with us as he finds us.  God’s way of relating with us depends on where we are in our life. 

If your happiness depends on relationships, this may be how God meets you.  Look for God in friendships.  Do you find joy in nature?  Look for God in the sea, the sky, the woods, and the fields and streams.  Do you like silence; look for God in the quiet. If you are a parent, God may meet you through your son or daughter (or grandson or granddaughter). 

You don’t have to wait, or change, for God to enter your life.  God is ready now. – Fr. James Martin, S.J.

 

 

 

Love- When Against All Odds
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blessed Michael Carvallo, S.J.

1577-1624

Martyr of Japan

 

Ever since Michael Carvallo was a Jesuit novice, he longed for the Japanese mission.  When he finally got his wish, his missionary work was brief.  He had hardly begun his work when he was thrown in a Japanese prison.  But as we learn from many saintly individuals, such as St. Therese Lisieux of the “small way,” God does not measure worth by what a person achieves, but by the love in the heart.

 

In Japan, at this time, all priests were required to dress in disguise: There was a great persecution of all Christians, especially priests and religious.  He was arrested as he was travelling back to his home in Nagasaki from a visit to Japanese Christians in another city, who requested a priest for confessions. 

 

His prison was a pen, made of stakes without a roof or walls.  It permitted the heat and the cold, the wind and the rain to beat upon the prisoners.  Their food was but a few handfuls of rice and a saucer of water in the morning and evening.  They were unable to wash or change clothing and were without sanitation; the stench in the enclosing was overpowering.  He spent 13 months in this pen. 

 

He died on this day in 1624 with a crucifix in his hand, his eyes fixed on the figure of Christ.  He stated just before he was to be executed by slow fire: “I die freely for the faith of Christ, our Lord.”

Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.

 

 Tomorrow, St. John’s Jesuit will celebrate our first Mass this school year, the Mass of the Holy Spirit. We will call on the Holy Spirit’s guidance in all we do this year. Lord, we pray that this recalling of your martyr, Blessed Michael Carvalho, S.J., may bring us joy and inspiration when our journey with you in this life presents challenges. Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

Come Holy Spirit

 

Come, Holy Spirit and from heaven direct on us the rays of Your light.  Come, Father of the poor; come, Giver of Gifts; come, Light of our hearts, Kindly Judge, in your compassionate visits to man’s soul You bring relieve and consolation.  If it is weary with toil, You bring ease; in the heat of temptation, Your grace cools it; if sorrowful, Your words console it.  Light most blessed, shine on the hearts of Your faithful – even into the darkest corners; for without Your help there is nothing good in us, and nothing is innocent.  Wash clean the injured soul.  Soften the hard of heart, warm the cold of heart, and direct the wayward.  Grant the seven holy gifts to Your faithful, for their trust is in You. Grant for their virtue; grant them death that ensures salvation; grant them everlasting happiness.  Amen

 

Inner Transformation
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Servant of God Andrew Carrio, S.J.

1876-1936

Martyr of the Spanish Civil War

 

On this morning in 1936 Fr. Andrew Carrio, S.J. had departed the inn he had spent the night and was walking to the bus stop to board a bus going home to Alicante, Spain.  Unfortunately, the stop was located next to the communists’ local office.  Revolution had broken out on July 23rd, the Catholic Church was considered an enemy; priests, especially Jesuits, were not safe.  He was not wearing his clerics as he walked to the bus, the revolutionaries in the office suspected him to be a priest, as they later said, “because of the goodness in his face.” 

 

He was apprehended  and spent the rest of the day in a cell beneath a staircase, and when he asked for food they offered him two raw eggs in a cup and told him this is all he will need.  The next morning they took him from his cell for a ride.  On this ride he was shot.  Later that morning a road worker, making his usual rounds, discovered his body and testified that his face was unrecognizable. 

 

The investigation into his martyrdom began in 1954 and continues today. 

 

 

It is the easy way to dwell on what we’d like to do but cannot, to mourn what might have been but is not, to weep for what was nearly done but not quite.  That way is wide but it is not your way; you fulfill your own desires, you nurture what you love, you treasure those you create.  Be Lord of my life!  (Jane Grayshon) Saint John Berchmans, pray for us.  Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

 

 

True Spirituality

 

The master was asked, “What is spirituality?” 

 

He said, “Spirituality is that which succeeds in bringing one to inner transformation.” 

 

“But if I apply the traditional methods handed down by the masters, is that not spirituality?” 

 

“It is not spirituality if it does not perform its function for you.  A blanket is no longer a blanket if it does not keep you warm.” 

 

“So spirituality does change?” 

 

“People change and needs change. So what was spirituality once is spiritually no more.  What generally goes under the name of spirituality is merely the record of past methods.”

 

Don’t cut the person to fit the coat.

Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.